Smallholder coffee and cocoa farmers in Honduras are getting a helping hand to access new markets and improve supply chain logistics using blockchain technology.
Tech giant IBM and non-profit Heifer International, two global companies, will assist in the process, according to a press release on Wednesday.
Those purchasing cocoa through Heifer Honduras’ Chocolate4All project will be able to trace the provenance of goods using IBM’s Food Trust, a network leveraging blockchain to connect and validate participants in a particular supply chain.
Coffee farmers will also leverage the tech by providing buyers of their product a means to reliably purchase beans through COPRANIL, one of the oldest coffee cooperatives in the western highlands of Honduras.
Food Trust will help coffee and cocoa farmers as well as processors verify certifications, improve treatment processes, and assist producers with producing quality beans, per the release.
In order to trace beans along a supply chain, users are given permissioned access to IBM’s private blockchain, on which Food Trust is built. Users can then upload data onto the network and utilize it to access documentation in a bid to improve an equitable exchange of information.
Heifer first uploads the information about nurse plants that are shipped to farmers. Post-harvest, farmers are required to tag and ship their beans to COPRANIL processors.
Additional data is then uploaded to the blockchain regarding the status of the beans including how they were cleaned, dried and roasted under the framework of the Fair Trade coffee regulations. From there, corporate buyers can view all the information and understand the reasoning behind the price of goods.
Heifer says small-scale coffee farmers operate at an average 46%-59% loss with farmers putting less than 1% of the profits from a cup of coffee sold in a shop into their back pocket. The aim is to increase the profit margins for those farmers, the companies say.
“When the people drinking our coffee know where it comes from, the farmers in our cooperative benefit,” said COPRANIL Vice President Jorge Lopez. “Food Trust can help our network of farmers command a better premium for their beans, and potentially improve their livelihoods.”