The tillers of the soil, the producers of food— the farmers— should technically have been the most respected of all. However, whether we go back in history or look at contemporary times, they have been and are the most miserable and the most exploited class. From America to India, the number of farmers killing themselves is shocking.
In 2016 alone, 11,379 farmers committed suicide in India. Movies and books have been devoted to the grim agricultural situation around the world. Peepli Live, The Lives of Others and For the Sake of Simple Truth are some poignant examples of the distress of the food cultivators. Artists, activists, and writers have spoken up for the cause and yet the end to the plight of the farmers seems distant.
The question that naturally comes to one’s mind is that since technology has revolutionized many other industries, can it also help the poor farmers live a life of dignity and comfort? Can blockchain free them from the cycle of debt and death? Let us take a look.
The very simple fact that blockchain provides an unrivaled transparency results in a super-fast supply chain traceability. One can easily trace a cabbage to the grower. It helps to ensure the safety of food products. But how can it be of benefit to the farmers?
Let us look at what happened in Haryana, India, last year. On the complaints about the cultivation of GM brinjals by activists, the Haryana horticulture department collected samples from the fields of the peasants to find out who was responsible for the cultivation of the controversial crop variety. The crop collected from fields found to be genetically modified was destroyed, as cultivating it was a crime. The farmers, who had no clue about the GM saplings, were petrified. ‘They were the victims,’ they said, ‘and not the criminals.’
Cases like these, in which the farmers bear impunity for contaminated varieties when it is not even their mistake, are many. And they can be resolved by the presence of a traceable supply chain in which the food can be traced back to the seeds.
The UN reports that as much as 50% of the crop value vanishes between the harvest and the sale. This contributes a lot to the penury of the farmers and their subsequent dependence on money lenders, falling in a debt-cycle that ends only with death.
Blockchain technology can act as a bridge between suppliers and buyers who can use it to negotiate for reasonable prices of their goods. This also helps the farmer to directly gain access to the international market as well. A good example of a platform built to help this problem is Agri360 which connects farmers to suppliers, buyers, and different financial institutions.
As a Database of Information
Misinformation and a lack of awareness about the existing technology is a major reason for crop failure across the world. This can be solved by blockchain-based applications that connect farmers and not only address their financial distress but also run programs to spread awareness about mono-cropping and its disadvantages, fertilizers, pesticides, new and organic methods of farming as well as an introduction to latest technologies.
Being a distributed ledger technology, blockchain can prove to be an excellent medium for connecting farmers and offering them help with information like weather forecasts and crop varieties which are most suitable to a particular climate.
A season’s crop depends heavily on the existing weather conditions and oftentimes a lack or excess of rain in the monsoon season leads to unpredictable crop damage.
Around 90% of the crop damage is caused by unfavorable weather conditions. Taking into account this massive figure one could imagine that the risk the farmers face planting their crops is no less than what gamblers do while betting their money, the difference being that gamblers do it for pleasure while the farmers, to earn their bread. Their misery can be reduced if blockchain is used to build platforms that provide insurance access to farmers around the world.
A Faster and More Secure Expanse Can Help
Farmers have been glorified much in poetry and speeches and yet so little have been done for them so far. The lives of a large majority of farmers globally is that of penury, hunger, and pain. The failure of the traditional methods to solve these issues is a call for a disruptive technology like blockchain to get into action. And Expanse is just the right place to begin. Based on Ethereum, the Expanse platform— fast and secure— allows the creation of dApps for solving practical problems encountered in the everyday lives of common people. All that is needed to go with it is a noble idea. And what could be nobler than a step to help farmers in distress?