Guest blog post from AgUnity.com
As we progress deeper into the digital age, it is easy to forget about the human element behind these technologies that are shaping our world. Emerging technologies such as Blockchain are revolutionising the world, beyond just changing everyday business practices. Despite the rapid digitalisation, it is important to remain focused on the agricultural sector and the impact digitisation has on various farming communities.
It is imperative that the agricultural sector keep up with the pace of this rapid transformation. Digitisation in agriculture is crucial for further development and sustainability. It is important to remember that behind every farm, there are groups of hardworking individuals whose livelihoods depend on the agricultural industry. Therefore, it is essential to ensure these technological innovations are implemented to benefit the farmers and help them easily and efficiently interact with the global supply chain.
There are numerous benefit to digitisation in the agricultural sector. Digitisation has the ability to revolutionise the way farmers operate by providing transparency, security and traceability throughout the entire supply chain. These technologies allow farmers to seamlessly manage their products from the planting and harvesting process to the final selling process. This improves the overall quality and efficiency as products can be traced back to the original source through the blockchain network. Let us consider the below by taking a deeper look into the various benefits of digitisation in the agricultural sector.
Empowering Farmers and Streamlining Operations
Digitising farmer organisations involves adopting digital tools and platforms to modernise various agricultural operations, streamline communication and enable farmers to make better decisions. Some of the key benefits include :
Improved Communication – These digital platforms allow farmers the ability to easily connect with one another, share relative information and work cohesively within the community.
Better Access to Information – By leveraging digital tools, farmers are able to access critical information such as market trends, climate and weather patterns and best harvesting methods. This allows farmers to make more informed decisions and improve their overall operational efficiency.
Digitisation : A Game-Changer for agricultural Supply Chains
Digital technologies such as blockchain can significantly improve the transparency, traceability and effectiveness of the agricultural supply chains.
Increased Transparency – Advanced digital solutions significantly improve the transparency of agricultural supply chains.By establishing a decentralised record-keeping system, all stakeholders within the agricultural supply chain have access to a single source of data, thereby facilitating transparent exchanges of information. This can help mitigate power imbalances that may occur between farmers and shareholders. Digital transparency also mitigates the potential for fraud or fraudulent transactions.
Improved Traceability – This capability allows shareholders to track products from farm to consumer, verifying the origin as well as the quality of goods. This digital advancement notably benefits the agricultural sector in the end-to-end traceability, achieved through the creation of a reliable and transparent data source. This data and information can empower shareholders to make informed decisions in areas such as procurement, which minimises the risk of purchasing poor or unethically sourced products.
Enhanced Efficiency – Smart contracts can be implemented to improve the overall effectiveness and efficiency of agricultural supply chains. Smart contracts are self executing systems that automate contract enforcement and payment processing. These smart contracts can automate transactions, payments and other processes necessary in the agricultural supply chain. By eliminating intermediaries, the transaction process is expedited reducing overall processing time and removing unnecessary expenses.
The Role of Digitisation in Farmer Organisations
Digital technologies such as Blockchain, have gained widespread popularity and are being adopted across various industries globally.The use of this technology can be used to promote greater sustainability and social responsibility throughout the entire agricultural sector. Digitisation offers tools that can help farmers ensure their products are produced in an ethical and environmentally responsible manner, thus reducing the risk of negative social and environmental impacts. Some of the roles of digitisation include :
Facilitating Fair Trade – Digitisation can facilitate fair trade between farmers and shareholders by creating secure and transparent transaction records, building trust among smallholder farmers, traders and consumers.
Empowering Farmers – One of the most significant challenges small farmers face is lack of access to financing, as they are often unable to provide the required collateral and credit history that traditional financial institutions demand. Blockchain and Digitisation can facilitate efficient means of transferring funds, accessing financial claims and managing insurance. This empowers farmers as they are able to build a credible history of agricultural activities.
Promoting Sustainable Agriculture – One of the biggest challenges with promoting sustainable farming practices is the lack of transparency and accountability in the food and farming supply chain. Digital technology, such as Blockchain can improve the promotion of sustainably by enabling a transparent and tamper-proof ledger that tracks sustainable farming practices such as the use of organic fertilisers, reduced water usage and reduced emissions. Farmers can be incentivised through rewards controlled by smart contracts that distribute rewards to farmers who meet the specific criteria regarding environmental concerns.
Overcoming The Challenges to Digital Adoption
These technologies have enormous potential to revolutionise industries and transform the agricultural industry in it’s entirety. However, successful adoption depends on overcoming obstacles such as regulatory barriers, resistance to change, inadequate infrastructure or technical skills, security and privacy concerns. Addressing these challenges is essential for unlocking the full benefits of these innovations. Some of the challenges include :
Inadequate Digital Literacy – Many farmers and stakeholders in the agricultural sector are not aware of the benefits that digitisation can offer. It is imperative that farmers and shareholders receive the necessary training and support in order to develop the skills needed to use these digital tools and platforms efficiently.
High Implementation Costs – Since digitisation involves significant investment in technology, training and infrastructure. Most farmers and stakeholders do not have the financial resources to make the necessary investments.
Trust and Security – Building trust in the agricultural sector through digitisation is challenging. It demands transparent systems, data privacy, and robust cybersecurity measures to ensure the protection of confidential data.
Infrastructure Limitations – The lack of adequate infrastructure, such as reliable internet access, and electricity poses a significant challenge for digitisation and Blockchain adoption in rural areas. Without the proper implementation of these infrastructures, mass adoption of this technology is almost impossible.
Embracing The Digital Revolution
Digitising farmer organisations and integrating various technologies can bring countless benefits to the agricultural industry. These innovations allow for streamlined processes, improved communication and enhanced quality of agricultural products. These technologies provide access to real-time information on market trends, input prices and weather forecasts leading to better crop yields and higher profit margins for farmers.
The challenges faced with digital adoption need to be addressed in order to ensure farmers reap the rewards and benefits of mass digital adoption. Embracing and implementing these technologies is a significant step towards a sustainable and equitable food system.The future of agriculture is dependent on the willingness of individuals to innovate and adapt.