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Blockchain resources

A selection of interesting websites, online platforms, and literature on blockchain and cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrency vs. traditional finance

Spore magazine has published an article on alternative finance platforms based on the blockchain. It writes that FinComEco, a fintech company aiming to build a ‘farmer-centred ecosystem across Africa to open new financing channels for rural communities’, and its partner Blockchain Commodities, a blockchain-focused commodities trader, believe that blockchain technology ‘and the coins and tokens developed out of that’ could serve as a ‘fast, low-cost alternative to traditional finance’.

➜ goo.gl/KXUf92

Blockchain for development

GSMA for Development has published a report featuring short case studies on four blockchain platforms that are being used ‘to improve people’s access to self-sovereign identities, bring new levels of transparency to the distribution of international aid, and improve the efficiency of humanitarian cash transfers’. The report aims to shed light on how mobile network operators may ‘be able to support and derive value from future “blockchain for development projects”.’

➜ goo.gl/zWQdQY

‘Blockchain benefits’

A BBC article shows how digital and blockchain technology is allowing ‘farmers and smallholders’ to discover ‘new ways of doing business’. The article cites an interesting example in Russia, where the inhabitants of Kolionovo have started using a cryptocurrency called the kolion, developed by a ‘local banker-turned farmer’. Initially he issued paper kolions to circumvent ‘the 12% interest charged by the banks he approached for a loan’. But the banks banned the currency, so he started developing a ‘cryptocurrency version’.

➜ goo.gl/DZpWFL

Proof of concept

Wageningen University and Research’s pilot study entitled ‘Blockchain for Agriculture and Food’

presents findings from the ‘Blockchain for Agrifood’ project, which aims ‘to contribute to a better understanding of the blockchain technology and its implications for agrifood’. It also aims to develop ‘a proof of concept in an application based on a use case concerning table grapes from South Africa’ where blockchain technology would be used.

➜ goo.gl/dC8AAe

Haitian smallholders

According to the Smallholder Farmers Alliance, ‘Haiti is on the cutting edge’ of testing blockchain technology ‘with the announcement of a Blockchain Cotton Project that will benefit the country's smallholder farmers’. The project aims to reintroduce cotton into Haiti after ‘a 30-year absence’. Field trials have been held with different varieties of cotton using organic principles and are being cultivated on a large scale this summer. Major buyers have shown interest in the cotton, such as Timberland, Vans and Patagonia.

➜ goo.gl/heQdJ8

Blockchain Africa Conference 2019

Hosted by Bitcoin Events, the Blockchain Africa Conference 2019 will take place in Johannesburg from 28 February to 1 March and in Cape Town on 6 March. Tickets go on sale on 1 September 2018. The aim of Bitcoin Events’ conferences is to ‘move Africa forward’ and ‘educate people by sharing insights into cryptocurrencies’ and blockchain technology’s revolutionary opportunities in Africa especially’. The conferences four main themes are ‘embracing blockchain’, ‘use cases’, ‘regulatory environment’ and ‘technology hurdles’.

➜ goo.gl/iuf55Z

Five African use cases

IDG Connect, which ‘produces, publishes and distributes local IT and business information’, has published a list of five blockchain use cases in Africa. They include land management through Kenya’s Land LayBy; reviving trade corridors with Binkabi in Nigeria, for example; tracing cobalt mining using Dorae in the Democratic Republic of Congo; creating a coffee supply chain in Ethiopia; and raising funds for community projects in Kenya.

➜ goo.gl/tnhNHi

From bait to plate

Ever wonder where your tuna comes from? Blockchain technology is going to strengthen tuna traceability to fight illegal fishing. The Conversation, an independent, not-for-profit media platform that uses information derived from researchers and academia, published an article a pilot project launched in January 2018 in the Pacific Islands tuna industry that uses ‘blockchain technology to track the journey of tuna from “bait to plate”. The aim is to help stop illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and human rights abuses in the tuna industry.’

➜ goo.gl/UtWzvy

Africa Blockchain Lab

Gabriella Mulligan of Disrupt Africa – a blog providing information for start-up entrepreneurs in the technology sector – writes that ‘Nigerian state-backed innovation hub KAD-ICT Hub and UK blockchain company Coinfirm have launched the Africa Blockchain Lab in Kaduna, aiming to bring together blockchain companies building solutions for Africa’. The lab provides a platform for entrepreneurs ‘building blockchain-based products and services relevant to African economies’.

➜ goo.gl/dxW49b

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Henk van Cann is co-founder of Blockchain Workspace, an organisation based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands that provides training on the blockchain to make the technology understandable to a broad audience. Henk spoke to ICT Update about the need to educate people in the use of the blockchain before they start using it and judging it, and why trust is one of the key drivers for moving away from centralised systems and towards blockchain technology.

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Using the Oxford Blockchain Strategy Framework, Nikolet Zwart has analysed a use case of adding value through the local processing of food by multinational agribusinesses to illustrate the usefulness of any kind of blockchain analysis.

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Nathalie Toulon from the AgroTIC Digital Agriculture Chair in France discusses the many ways in which the blockchain can potentially change agriculture, for example by enhancing trust, transparency and efficiency, and several pitfalls to take into account. Like any new technology, blockchain should not be viewed as a panacea. For it to serve development, it will need to mature.

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John Weru is a Kenya-born writer, blogger and co-founder of PayHub East Africa. In a conversation with ICT Update, John talked about the rise of cryptocurrency, the potential of the blockchain to improve efficiency in the agricultural value chain in Africa, and the urgent need to educate people about the technology itself and the economy that it is creating.

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Eva Oakes describes Choco4Peace’s experience building a network based on blockchain technology in the cocoa sector in Colombia. The main aim is to get smallholders out of both cocaine production and poverty through access to finance.

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In 2017, The Fork – an Amsterdam-based company working on blockchain for global food chain development – developed, reviewed and commented on about 20 applications of the blockchain in agriculture. After briefly explaining what it essentially is, we will summarise its value for agriculture – which is different to what is often communicated – as well as its limitations, and how you can start experimenting with it.

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Blockchain appeared in our lives as a modern technology that promises ubiquitous financial transactions among distributed untrusted parties, without the need of intermediaries such as banks. Several ongoing projects and initiatives now illustrate the impact blockchain technology is having on agriculture and suggest it has great potential for the future.

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Sander Janssen and Jaclyn Bolt discuss the potential of blockchain technology for development by way of multiple examples, arguing that it needs to be combined with a strategy for digitisation, targeted capacity building of its users and an impact-driven approach.

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BreadTrail, an app created by Darien Jardine, Nirvan Sharma and Reshawn Ramjattan, makes introducing reliable and incorruptible traceability to the supply chain secure and scalable while providing benefits to everyone involved from farmer to customer.

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Business transactions in agriculture have been transformed by the digitisation of the value chain. The first big impact came with barcodes, which made it possible to track items through a value chain. Then came handheld mobile data collection devices, more affordable sensors to track conditions, followed by the internet to transform links with consumers.

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