Oxfam in Cambodia launched the BlocRice project on Thursday – a platform using blockchain technology to connect a network of people in the rice supply chain that aims to ensure farmers get a fair price for their produce.
Working as the pilot test project since April this year, the BlocRice app focuses on transparency and traceability using blockchain technology by implementing smart contracts as a tool and interactive consumer communication apps for a better user interface.
‘Party to the contracts’
“Farmers thus gain collective bargaining power since agricultural cooperatives will be party to the contracts,” said Oxfam in Cambodia country director Solinn Lim.
In its first year, Oxfam’s BlocRice project will work with 50 small-scale organic-rice farmers in Preah Vihear province.
The project is taking place through the rainy season in March, the country’s prime season to harvest and sell rice.
Oxfam says after the first BlocRice project completes next year, the platform will be expanded to 1,000 farmers in 2020 and 5,000 in 2022.
The goal is to promote a “smart contract”, a three-way digital contract farming agreement between farmers, exporters and buyers in the Netherlands.
The project digitises and registers these contracts on the blockchain platform. Details such as primary purchase price, trade volume and transportation method are recorded, with cashless payments made to the farmers through bank accounts for traceability.
Oxfam estimates that 60 per cent of Cambodia’s workforce is employed in the agriculture sector, and many of them do not have contracts with their clients.
Lack of market price knowledge and high-interest loans put pressure on farmers to sell produce and clear their debts, it said.