How Can Bitcoin Improve A Farmer's Business Opportunity?

Digital technology has transformed the entire world but till now they have done little for transforming businesses for farmers. Bitcoin and Blockchain are here to change that. From apps to the blockchain technology behind bitcoin, farmers and smallholders are discovering new ways of doing business.

Let us take an example of Cocoa farmers in Ghana. The Olam Farmer Information System (OFIS) run by commodities giant Olam, has helped him more than triple output – and reduce reliance on pesticides.

Olam Cocoa provides a range of interventions that help farmers sustainably increase their productivity from coaching in Good Agricultural Practices to providing access to agricultural inputs and finance. Diversification of income is also key to improving total household income and Olam works with youth associations and women’s groups in activities such as beekeeping, intercropping and the development of community pruning teams.

The Olam Farmer Information System (OFIS) collects farm level data via a smartphone to identify where vital social infrastructure like schools are lacking alongside details of farmer families, like the number and age of children, if they are attending school or living within proximity of one. With this data, working with the cooperatives, they can identify any issues and find solutions. Currently, they have 100,000 cocoa farmers in Africa registered on the OFIS platform.

The OFIS app collects farm data and uses algorithms to make personalized recommendations to farmers about how to increase their yields. Olam apps allow products to be tracked when leaving the farm, and farmers can check cocoa prices and trade online, achieving a better price for their crops.

Olam is a not-for-profit project tackling the wasteful supply chain inefficiencies by means of a standard, open-source platform on the blockchain which allows the various logistics stakeholders to connect and communicate seamlessly. Registered in Switzerland, the Olam Foundation harnesses blockchain technology enabling the global supply chain's various stakeholders to seamlessly connect, communicate and develop their business in a trusted environment.

Olam also draws on knowledge from various international institutions like the International Rice Research Institute, the Africa Rice Center, CIRAD in France, Cornell University and the Rice Research and Training Center in Egypt. Apart from the above, Olam has an internal research and development facility to develop and adapt seeds to the local conditions, a seed cleaning plant and a state-of-the-art rice mill.

Notably, in Russia, farmers in Kolionovo, a town near Moscow, are already using blockchain technology. Under the leadership of local banker-turned farmer Mikhail Shlyapnikov, they have embraced a cryptocurrency called the kolion, which is earned by helping residents with farming or construction work. They raised $500,000 in an ICO last year which has a current worth of about $3.15 million USD.

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