This team of UoH researchers has developed a one-of-a-kind Blockchain platform to help farme- Edexlive
A digital ledger that is a repository of all the information a farmer could possibly need at any stage of production or retail – this is the idea that forms the heart of the platform. Inclusive Growth Chain (IGC) that researchers at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) created in collaboration with Social Education Economical Development Society (SEEDS), an agricultural producers’ organization (FPO) based in Tamil Nadu and Samunnati, a value chain company specializing in agricultural lending, while Synchrony’s CSR funds helped boost the project. In the beginning, the International Business Machines (IBM) Mentorship Program helped the team develop the private Blockchain and although there were minor obstacles to securing enough human resources to work with the technology, over the years. time, they managed to smooth things over.
The team, led by Professor Vijay Marisetty and Professor Varsha Mamidi of the School of Management Studies at UoH, worked with 30,000 farmers in Virudhunagar, Tamil Nadu, familiarizing them with the technology and how they can take advantage of it. this Blockchain ledger using a mobile. application developed within the framework of the project. All transactions and information are recorded on the Blockchain and are accessible through the mobile application developed by the team, which also consists of four university researchers. “The mobile app has a voice robot that converses with farmers in their native language, which is currently Tamil, and they can get their questions answered,” shares Professor Vijay, who works with Blockchain technology with Professor Varsha for about two years. years now.
The value created is redistributed to farmers, giving them greater bargaining power, explains Professor Vijay Marisetty
“The aim of the IGC is to ensure that information from all actors in the ecosystem, such as input suppliers, product markets, insurance companies, finance companies and all stakeholders associated with farmers, can have a common and decentralized ledger so that there is no problem of reconciliation in the whole process of production and retail ”, explains Professor Vijay, specifying that the process will reduce costs. operating costs for farmers by giving them access to the best prices, without involving intermediaries. Bringing together suppliers and buyers of inputs under one platform will also help them assess aggregate demand from farmers. Lenders can issue tokens available for specific purposes on the Blockchain platform. For example, if a farmer wants to buy seeds, he can use tokens specifically issued for this, thus minimizing the misuse of funds. Assets can be traced on IGC, which allows lenders to monitor asset quality and reduce bankruptcy rate.
The team plans to reach five million farmers across India each year
And although there are huge environmental concerns about Blockchain technology, given the high power consumption involved in minting the tokens used on these platforms, Professor Vijay assures that these do not apply to a company, a private blockchain such as IGC, which uses the relatively energy efficient proof of authority mechanism rather than the infamous Proof of Work algorithm. “We use hyper-book fabric. In case of proof of work, any foreigner can access the information, while in proof of authority, it is only accessible to authorized persons. It is user-friendly for companies and the information remains in the network, ”he explains. Speaking about the project’s goals, Prof Vijay said that even though Telangana is their next target market, they aim to reach five million farmers every year and bring them into the platform with all FPOs across the country. “Such a farmer-centric Blockchain system has not been developed anywhere else. We are the first to do this, ”says Professor Vijay.
They will work with an FPO called Dharini in Kamareddy to bring the technology to the farmers of Telangana
The team had to overcome infrastructural hurdles with regard to devices and internet connectivity in the villages. Professor Vijay shares that women farmers generally do not have access to smartphones, but the lockdown and subsequent need for online lessons has been a blessing in disguise for them as they have had to buy or receive the devices for online lessons. Professor Vijay realizes the need for in-depth research and studies in the field. The national education policy places a colossal emphasis on artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies and the professor seems to agree. “The challenge will be to get good resources who have an understanding of the technology. It is absolutely necessary to take it seriously by introducing more training programs and developing skills, ”says the professor, adding that there are plans to introduce Blockchain technology as an elective course for MBA students. Business Analytics.
To reach: inclusivegrowthchain.com