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Oxfam’s blockchain-based project gets official launch

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
The new project aims to improve farmers’ livelihoods by increasing their incomes. KT/Mai Vireak

Oxfam yesterday held the official launch for its blockchain-based project BlocRice, which aims to increase farmers bargaining power in negotiations with buyers and digitally connect every actor in the supply chain.

The project, a first in the Kingdom due to its usage of blockchain technology, was launched last April as a pilot programme that will end March next year. Its goal is to ensure farmers can sell their products at a higher price.

BlocRice will give farmers collective bargaining power since agricultural cooperatives will be parties to the contracts, said Solinn Lim, country director of Oxfam in Cambodia.

Now in the testing phase, the aim is for BlocRice to gain acknowledgement from all relevant actors in the supply chain, she said.

The goal is to promote ‘smart contracts’, which she described as three-way digital agreements between organic farmers and rice exporters in Cambodia and buyers in the Netherlands.

“BlocRice promotes the use of such digital contracts as tools for social and economic empowerment.

“The application of blockchain technology is expected to enhance the negotiation power of small-scale farmers in their rice value chains, who are usually poor primary producers,” she added.

The pilot project is being implemented with the collaboration of a cooperative of organic rice farmers in Preah Vihear province.

The cooperative will be linked up using blockchain and smart contract technologies with every agent involved in the supply chain, including SanoRice, the Dutch rice cracker manufacturer that will use the cooperative’s rice as raw material for their products.

“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 explained.

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

Song Saran, CEO of Amru rice, a company that will also be involved in the programme as an exporter, said the project will increase transparency, traceability, fairness and trust in the supply chain and enhance the livelihoods of farmers.

It now involves just one agricultural community 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, Mr Saran said.

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