Tribune News Service

Ruchika M Khanna

Chandigarh, October 23

The state government is looking to use blockchain technology for making its agriculture smart. From tracing organically grown crops to tracking pesticide usage in other crops and from using smart technology to track seed distribution to making a data base of farmers – all is being explored by the Agriculture Department now.

Officials in the state government say that they are first exploring the use of this technology for tracking seeds and for the growth of potato cultivated organically. The technology, which will record process of cultivation right from seed purchase to sale of the produce in the market, will also record each transaction of the supply chain and open it for review by farmers, administration and consumers.

Talking to The Tribune, Agriculture Director Gurvinder Singh said they were also looking at the use of blockchain technology for tracking sourcing and end use of pesticides, besides making data on farmers and their seasonal operations. “We have not yet decided on the technology partner, but the possibilities for its use are endless and we intend using it comprehensively,” he said.

Blockchain is a fast-growing technology, which can assist farmers by predicting weather conditions accurately, rationalise the use of water for irrigation, increase yields and improve net profit margins. So far, two of the state governments have started using blockchain technology in agriculture.

Andhra Pradesh has collaborated with a Swedish company to develop a blockchain-based platform catering to record-keeping of land registrations. This will enable farmers to directly make contact with the government, thereby saving them from frauds.

The other state, which has taken a lead in its usage, is Jharkhand. Blockchain technology is being used to track seed distribution there. It tracks seed supply distribution through every stage, starting from issuing of supply orders by the Directorate of Agriculture to placing of seed demand by the District Agriculture Officer to tracking of seed distribution by empanelled government seed producing agency among distributors, retailers, Primary Agricultural Credit Societies, Large sized Adivasi Multipurpose Societies, Farmers Service Societies and Farmer Producer Organisations, and then finally among farmers.

Vikram R Singh, who heads Antier Solutions, a blockchain consulting firm, says that blockchain also has the capability to help solve the problem of stubble-burning. “Various organisations and companies have been working on low-cost stubble machines, but they are still out of reach for farmers. Through meticulous planning and implementation, we can have an efficient rental distribution system in place for these machines, and it can be governed through streamlining, recordkeeping and efficient rental contracts. This can bring a transformative impact in the agriculture sector and has the potential of building an effective supply chain management mechanism much beyond these machines. This digitisation can be extended to record information about the quality of land, the types of crops grown, the kinds of fertilisers applied, etc,” he said.

How it will work

  • Step 1: Farmers purchase seeds to sow a crop and these purchases are recorded on the blockchain
  • Step 2: Other details will also get simultaneously recorded, like the time stamp of seed purchases, the geographical location of the purchasers’ land and sales
  • Step 3: After finally identifying the seed groups, each one is assigned a specific barcode, which details the entire journey from farm to end-sale

Getting profitable results

  • Blockchain is a fast-growing technology, which can assist farmers by predicting weather conditions accurately, rationalise the use of water for irrigation, increase yields and improve net profit margins
  • The technology can also bifurcate the data on the basis of factors like climatic conditions of a region in a particular month, topographical characteristics and location to make the distribution more specific and accurate

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