How Big Data and Blockchain Are Changing the World of Agricultural Commodities
Big Data involves analyzing massive amounts of data to uncover hidden trends and insights. The use of Big Data has helped companies better understand their customers and predict consumer behavior. It has even made it easier for doctors to make more accurate diagnoses.
It could also have a significant impact on our food supply chain in the coming years.
Sara Menker is a major player in the Big Data industry. Once a commodities trader, she is now looking at ways to bring data to bear on the problems faced by our food supply chains, which are critical to feeding the world.
Menker's software platform, analyzes vast amounts of global agricultural data — processing 650 trillion data points each day. All of this data is used with models to create actionable predictions for everyone in the supply chain from farm to table, allowing them to make optimal decisions.
The data span a wide range from agricultural data to commodity prices to trade data. Their models provide outputs on yields and allow key players in the industry to prepare for risks such as floods and other unpredictable events.
Gro Intelligence's data can also be used by investors and manufacturers to determine, for example, future prices.
Blockchain creates a secure, transparent ledger. When used with the agricultural commodities market, this allows participants to reduce food waste and quickly track the origins of ingredients used in food products. It can also be used to prevent fraud such as incorrectly labeled products (e.g., caged chicken being labeled free-range).
Using blockchain, each step in the food supply chain would be verifiable by each market participant — from farmers to the store that sells the final product. Many of these benefits are already coming to fruition.
The first sale of wheat on a blockchain was executed in 2016 on the AgriDigital platform.
Transportation, and their associated costs, are a key component of the agricultural supply chain. The cost of transporting wheat, for example, can impact the prices of a variety of products, including flour and bread.
The ability to reduce those costs could have a strong impact. Using IoT and real-time data, businesses can quickly determine the most efficient routes — reducing the cost of fuel, machinery, and allied transportation costs.
RFID (radio frequency identification) technology is making it easier to track and monitor commodities.
For example, an orange juice truck could be monitored to determine if it is maintaining the correct temperature.
This same technology could also help reduce truck downtime by signaling when it is due for maintenance.
The agricultural field has long been viewed as a manual process that requires people to perform much of the labor. And while it’s the most complex of all commodities markets, it’s also the market that has most lagged in terms of technology.
As we've discussed, IoT, Big Data, and blockchain can have, and to some extent already have had, a great impact on the cost of bringing agricultural commodities to market.
Written by the Rebellion Team, Edited by Alexander Fleiss & Samson Qian
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