Blockchain technology is being explored as a tool to drive agricultural trade in the Caribbean
Castries, St. Lucia, 14 June 2019 (IICA) – Through the CARICROP project, academics, integration organizations, government entities and IICA are analyzing the use of blockchain technology to guarantee market transparency, create more profitable trade associations and promote agricultural trade in the region.
Blockchain technology is a continuously growing list of transactions records. As the transactions are shared, verified and validated, blockchains are able to operate without the need for centralized control and with high levels of security.
Experts from the University of Edinburgh (UoE) and specialists from the Jamaica and St. Lucia Delegations of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) met with young entrepreneurs from the agriculture and technology sectors, producer associations, supermarkets, as well as hoteliers and politicians to explain the concept of blockchain and its challenges and implications for agroindustry.
Larissa Pshetz of the UoE explained that, “Blockchain enables greater transparency, while facilitating a more direct relationship between various links in the supply chain and eliminating the need for numerous intermediaries, thereby empowering producers and consumers.”
Pshetz maintained that blockchain’s potential to improve food supply chains is considerable, given its capacity to guarantee that data cannot be altered, since it distributes and synchronizes records in multiple locations.”
While in St. Lucia, the team met with Ezechiel Joseph, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Cooperatives, who expressed a keen interest in understanding how the CARICROP project could help to resolve market supply and demand problems, as well as to provide increased market opportunities for producers.
Members of the tourism sector—the most important sector in the Caribbean—commended the initiative, particularly to the extent that it may provide an opportunity to strengthen ties with producers, and also emphasized the importance of guaranteeing the reliability and quality of the supply of products.
Other entities supporting the use of blockchain are the University of the West Indies (UWI), the CARICOM Secretariat and the Eastern Caribbean Trading, Agriculture and Development Organization (ECTAD), among others.
This pilot project will also assess whether other tools could be incorporated to produce similar results and will end in July, when the findings are presented at a regional workshop in Jamaica.
Allister Glean, International Specialist in Agribusiness and Value Chains, IICA