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Blockchain-based agricultural project holds official launch

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
A Cambodian rice farmer at work. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The official launch of an innovative programme to boost farmers’ livelihoods through the use of blockchain and smart contract technologies is taking place today.

Called BlocRice and targeting farmers in Preah Vihear province, the programme is a collaboration of Oxfam Cambodia and local firm Amru Rice.

It is powered by cutting-edge technologies and aims to raise living standards for farmers by increasing transparency, cost efficiency and financial literacy, Kann Kunthy, Amru Rice’s managing director, told Khmer Times yesterday.

It will also help farmers comply with Good Agricultural Practice principles and improve traceability in supply chains, he added.

Mr Kunthy said the project, now in the pilot stage, has been running since April.

It now involves just one agricultural community (about 50 farmers) and one product: rice. If it proves successful, however, it may be expanded to include all the communities currently working with Amru Rice and new products, such as organic cassava, pepper and cashew nuts.

Amru Rice currently works with 27 agricultural communities in the province, he added.

Lim Solinn, Oxfam’s country director, told Khmer Times in March that the project will give traders, manufacturers and retailers more access to information on the supply chain.

She said data obtained from the programme could also be used by NGOs advocating for fair prices and proper living standards for workers throughout the supply chain.

“This is a first experiment applying blockchain as a poverty reduction tool,” she said. “The cooperative will be linked up, using blockchain and smart contract technologies, with every agent involved in the supply chain, including SanoRice.”

SanoRice is a Dutch rice cracker manufacturer that will use the agricultural community’s rice as raw material for their products.

She said smart contracts lie at the core of the programme. They are digital three-way arrangements between producers, exporters and retailers. Their mission is to facilitate, verify or enforce the negotiation and performance of a contract, she said.

Ultimately, smart contracts help ensure producers receive their fair share and are able to earn a living income from their labour and resource investment, Ms Solinn explained.

“All actors, from the agricultural cooperatives up to SanoRice, will have a shared, digital contract. During the process, from planting to the manufacturing of rice crackers, the chain actors will share information with each other through their shared database powered by blockchain,” Ms Solinn said.

She added that data yield by the programme will be analysed to find ways of strengthening local agricultural communities. “This is expected to empower them in price negotiations and in finding buyers.”

The project will also introduce cashless payments to farmers, using personal bank accounts provided by Acleda bank.

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