During September we participated in two important forums – the 7th Pacific Tuna Forum in Port Moresby, PNG and the inaugural Strike Two Summit in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
We shared our experience in seafood traceability and how blockchain technology could be used to enhance traceability.
There were several takeaways from these events:
- Despite the hype, blockchain technology is still not well understood in fisheries circles
- Food traceability, especially the first mile, is little understood by (blockchain) technologists working on traceability solutions
- A lot of blockchain traceability solution providers are building on private/consortium blockchains and not on open blockchains
- We are in a unique position to advise in the development of open blockchain traceability platforms because of our experience with both end-to-end traceability and public blockchain development
- Blockchain solutions like IBM Food Trust require food companies to have existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions to participate – they don’t cater to those that don’t have good digital systems
Pacific Tuna Forum (PTF2019)
It was my first PTF and I didn’t quite know what to expect of it but I’d heard that it was a good forum with great representation from various tuna industry stakeholders.
Most of the discussions were geared towards the purse seine tuna industry – which makes sense because that’s where most of the tuna revenue is generated from.
The “Green Tower” featured above was a common graphic that everyone liked to talk about.
We all heard from the scientists that the 4 major tuna species stock levels are healthy and that the Pacific is by far the world’s best managed and most productive tuna fishing grounds.
We also heard, rather alarmingly, of the projected movement of tuna to the eastern Pacific and drop in catches in Pacific Island EEZs by 2050 due to climate change and a warmer Pacific Ocean.
I spoke on what blockchain technology is by drawing parallels with a shared document and how it could be used as a common platform to enhance transparency across the industry while creating new value and niche opportunities for fishers and processors.
The audience were very appreciative of the presentation and many came to me afterwards to express it. It certainly clarified for them what the technology is and isn’t.
It wasn’t all business however.
The forum provided an opportunity to meet up with former colleagues of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), a number of whom like me have moved on from the regional body.
Strike Two Summit
We were invited to Amsterdam, Netherlands by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) to participate in this event.
Everyone queuing up for blockchain-tracked coffee from Ethiopia.
This summit was the first where we had folks involved in food systems in the same room together with blockchain technologists and companies working on solutions for the future of food.
It was a sobering start to the Summit as we were reminded of the urgency to find solutions to our food crises.
We basically have to produce twice as much as we are now to feed the world in 2050 or drastically reduce our food waste.
“Farmers need to make money to afford innovation” – a young Dutch farmer
It was interesting to hear from a few people that despite the access to seemingly good and affordable technology that many Dutch farmers were still not using digital tools like farmer apps.
In many recent agriculture forums we’ve heard that ICT is a game-changer for agriculture and of the many farmer apps being built, including our own efforts, but the question remains – how will we get farmers to adopt the technology?
We got an opportunity to display our product and work at the Solutions Market – a first for us in this type of event.
A lot of people dropped by to learn about what we were doing and it was reassuring for us to be told by some of the blockchain experts that what we’re doing is far ahead of others in the room.