The United Nations estimated in 2021 that nearly one billion people worldwide, more than 12% of the world’s population, were at immediate risk of hunger, with the COVID-19 pandemic, increased desertification agricultural regions, inflation, military conflict and global supply shortages combine to push more of the world’s poor into hunger.
Furthermore, food security – access to safe, affordable and nutritious food – is directly impacted by climate change, where droughts, fires and floods are already wreaking havoc on the global food sustainability system. The current conflict between Russia and Ukraine is choking off an essential global food supply line, while displacing millions of people who need food, shelter and other necessities of life.
Against this backdrop, there is growing evidence that blockchain technology can improve the way food is tracked, transported and sold around the world. Technology can solve decades-old problems in food supply, food safety and food quality, including mitigating the negative effects of climate change by increasing food sustainability.
Among the problem areas where blockchain can help provide a solution is food waste. Every year, $48.3 billion worth of food is thrown away in the United States alone. Globally, approximately 33% of food is lost or wasted. This is a staggering amount, especially when better management of distribution and supply could fight hunger, and in an environmentally sustainable way. While there are many reasons for food waste, one of the culprits is the lack of effective shipment tracking.
To help solve this specific problem, Unisot, a Norwegian supply chain services company, is using the BSV blockchain to improve the way food shipments are monitored through a management platform it developed for the global seafood industry. Using the Unisot platform, a seafood producer can track their entire supply chain, from a fisherman’s boat to the final distribution point.
At every step of a product’s journey, from the fisherman’s net or trap to a supermarket checkout counter or food donation center, critical data is collected and shared that can show exactly where bottlenecks are occurring. distribution bottlenecks and potential food spoilage points. The system captures and monitors data from all parts of the supply chain, from a fisherman’s smartphone app to IoT sensors in a production plant, ensuring seafood producers can ensure the origin, quality, safety, provenance and sustainability of their products.
With the huge amount of food produced around the world, Unisot believes the BSV blockchain is uniquely suited to handle the vast amount of data needed to accurately track any type of food product, whether it’s live lobsters going out of a trawler or butter produced. in a commercial dairy. Unisot chose to build its platform on the BSV blockchain because it offers truly immutable, i.e. unalterable, data tracking and monitoring at extremely fast speeds and low transaction costs.
As the poorest countries face the most acute effects of the pandemic and climate crises, any benefit to making food supplies more secure can have life-saving consequences for at-risk populations. This end-to-end traceability maximizes product shelf life, which helps reduce waste and provides the ability to efficiently get food supplies to where they are needed.
Issues such as harvesting techniques, financial constraints and substandard packaging materials contribute to good food going bad in communities where hunger is most acute.
Blockchain technology is also taking advantage of the widespread use of smartphones to fight corruption, which has often been blamed for failing to help people who depend on them. A United Nations World Food Program (WFP) humanitarian project in Jordan called Building Blocks provides refugees with digital payments that are stored on their smartphones and live on the blockchain, where funds are traceable and transactions immutable. When a refugee makes a purchase at an outlet, she can access funds from the digital wallet which requires a biometric scan before authorizing payment.
WFP’s initiative in Jordan, which has been expanded to assist Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh in 2020, stems from a small pilot project launched in Pakistan in 2017 to provide refugees with nominal digital cash payments to buy their own food instead. than relying on packaged goods dropped off by aid shipments. In addition to cash disbursements, families participating in the program can now receive digital vouchers that can be redeemed for food and other necessities, with transactions all fully authenticated on the blockchain via a wallet kept on their smartphone. .
Since last year, more than a million people in need have been served each month by the blockchain initiative, which the WFP has described as “the world’s largest implementation of blockchain technology for humanitarian assistance. “.
It’s not enough, but it’s a successful start and proves what blockchain can do. In a crisis like world hunger, a new solution that works, even if it is in its infancy, is a gift to be celebrated.
Richard Baker is the CEO of TAAL Distributed Technologies Inc. in Toronto. richard is a technology entrepreneur with over 25 years of corporate experience working with startups in the technology, financial services, digital media and telecommunications industries. He has a deep passion for transforming innovative technologies into business opportunities.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.