Oxfam, a global charity organization, has launched a blockchain-based project to empower farmers in Cambodia by enhancing the transparency and traceability of the rice supply chain. A new app, named “BlocRice”, will implement smart contracts using distributed ledger technology (DLT) where detailed data such as the farm price of organic rice, trade volume and method of transportation is recorded.
In its pilot phase, the project will work with 50 rice farmers in Cambodia’s Preah Vihear province. During the first year, BlocRice is expected to accelerate the bargaining power of the participants in negotiations with the buyers of their products, which will potentially offer them higher prices. Additionally, BlocRice will act as a connector between the parties involved in the supply chain including the farmers, Cambodian rice exporters and international importers.
According to Solinn Lim, the country director of Oxfam in Cambodia: “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. All actors, from the agricultural cooperatives through to their buyers, will have a shared, digital contract. During the process, from planting, harvesting, manufacturing of rice products or the export of rice, the chain actors will share information with each other through their shared database powered by blockchain.”
During the pilot phase, Cambodia’s biggest local commercial bank, Acleda Bank, will launch and facilitate cashless payments to the farmers. As such, the participating farmers have already opened accounts with this leading bank.
It is estimated that the agricultural sector accounts for almost 60% of Cambodia’s workforce. By enhancing transparency pertaining to prices, the majority of the Cambodian society is expected to be empowered and earn more money.
Southeast Asia – The Rice Capital
With Southeast Asia being the rice capital of the world, Cambodia is not the only nation that is exploring blockchain to empower farmers. The Trade Policy and Strategy Office (TPSO) of Thailand said in 2018 that they will launch blockchain-based projects in 2019 to enhance efficiency in exporting rice.
Pimchanok Vonkorpon, Director of TPSO said: “Using blockchain for the process could reduce processing time to less than three days, improving transparency and increasing confidence and trust for exporters and foreign importers, benefiting Thai farmers.”