This study is one of the first to explore how blockchain technology (BCT) could be used to improve food security in communities that are reliant on agriculture but are the last to receive services or access to markets, known as the ‘last-mile’. The goal was to determine how BCT could contribute to improving the income of African indigenous vegetable (AIV) value chain actors (e.g., producers, traders, and retailers) and to the affordability, availability, and accessibility of nutritious foods like AIVs for consumers. It finds that BCT can simultaneously strengthen the functionality of an entire agri-food value chain by increasing the efficiency of transactions among value chain actors, improving cooperation along the value chain, and enhancing access to information. A decrease in post-harvest loss, reduction in negotiation and search costs, and traceability of Grade A vegetables were facilitated by the blockchain functionality of the AgUnity V3 SuperApp. Producer income was improved by better meeting market demand, time savings on AIV activities, increasing the supply of Grade A vegetables, and making information on the vegetables more available to consumers. Increased incomes led to improved food security among producers by facilitating their ability to procure more food, especially higher quality proteins and fruits. Participants and consumers reported an increase in the consumption of AIVs over the study period because of increased quality, availability, and awareness of their nutritional importance.
On Monday, November 15, our AgChain Hackathon at Egerton University, Kenya, will officially begin. My welcome address for the three-day hackathon event can be watched below. During this address, I outline a number of the findings we have obtained from our USAID LASER PULSE project entitled “Exploring Blockchain Technology to Improve Food Security Through African Indigenous Vegetables in Western Kenya.” This hackathon is the second project milestone event this fall, and follows the blockchain webinar we held on October 26, 2021.
Please find below a recording of our international USAID LASER PULSE webinar entitled To Block or Not? Exploring the Use of Blockchain in Last Mile Agriculture Communities.
Webinar Description – Blockchain technology is heralded for its ability to improve traceability, trust, and trust in agri-food value chains. What is lesser known is whether it is a viable technology for those value chains that originate in last-mile agriculture communities. This webinar explores the contexts in which blockchain offers real solutions to strengthening value chains and its potential for creating social impact, like improved food security or engaging youth in agriculture, and where it does not. For the optimist and the skeptic, this two-hour webinar aims to discard the trendiness of the emerging technology and take a pragmatic view of the opportunities to use blockchain to strengthen last-mile agriculture.
Webinar: October 26, 2021, 8am-10am (EDT). Register (for free) here.
Traceability. Transparency. Trust.
Food systems built on these principles generally are known to attract higher price premiums by increasing consumer confidence and value for the products. This creates income earning opportunities for producers and upgrades the quality of agri-food value chains. Blockchain technology is heralded for its ability to improve traceability, trust, and trust in agri-food value chains. What is lesser known is whether it is a viable technology for those value chains that originate in last-mile agricultural communities.
This webinar explores the contexts in which blockchain offers real solutions to strengthening value chains and its potential for creating social impact, like improved food security or engaging youth in agriculture. For the optimist and the skeptic, this two-hour webinar aims to discard the trendiness of the emerging technology and take a pragmatic view of the opportunities to use blockchain to strengthen last-mile agriculture.
Webinar Host – Ralph Hall, Virginia Tech
Technology Panel: 8am – 9am (ETD)
- David Davis, CEO, AgUnity
- Keith Nielsen, Director, AgriUT Foundation
- Mary Nderitu, Trans-Africa Agribusiness Solutions
- Jessica Agnew, Assistant Director, CIRED, Virginia Tech
Views from the Field Panel: 9am – 10am (ETD)
Virginia Tech recently published the article below on our USAID LASER PULSE-funded African Indigenous Vegetables (AIVs) supply chain project in Kenya.
The following AGRILINKS article by Sara Hendery was just published on our USAID LASER PULSE project in Kenya. The purpose of this project is to explore how a blockchain-based technology platform developed by AgUnity, could be used to enhance the supply chain for African Indigenous Vegetables (AIVs). The project is co-managed by our in-country partners at Egerton University.
The USAID LASER PULSE Network just released the short story below on how we implemented a co-design process with our partners – AgUnity and Egerton University in Kenya – for our project entitled “Exploring Blockchain Technology to Improve Food Security Through African Indigenous Vegetables in Western Kenya.”
The story talks about our desire to blend the research and translation process from the beginning of our proposal development for the following three reasons:
(1) We expected research activities to bring up new questions that would need to be addressed to produce an impactful research translation product. The research team members are able to return to the field to get answers for the research translation team to continue to refine the app.
(2) Collaboration and partnership are essential for impact. Development in general must continue to break down silos between disciplines and professions in order to meet the needs of the individuals we are trying to serve through this research. Collaboration facilitates the rapid problem solving and creativity that impact generation requires.
(3) Working collaboratively is a lot of fun! It stimulates passions and shared interests, facilitates out of the box thinking, and learning. So far, we have been able to provide training to each other, talk about new and innovative ways to address nutrition, discuss unique avenues to scale the project and ensure sustainability, and share our own passions and interests in travel, food, and family.Source
The Center for International Research, Education, and Development recently published a short story on our USAID LASER (Long-Term Assistance and Services for Research) PULSE (Partners for University Led Solutions Engine) project entitled “Exploring the Use of Blockchain Technology to Improve Food Security Through African Indigenous Vegetables in Western Kenya.”
Congratulations to Kaitlyn Spangler for successfully defending her thesis entitled “When he comes home, then he can decide”: Male out-migration, the feminization of agriculture, and integrated pest management in the Nepali mid-hills.
Kaitlyn’s research focused on gendered processes of male out-migration and their relation to IPM practices. See her abstract below for more information on her main findings.
As part of a USAID-funded integrated pest management (IPM) project, this thesis presents research conducted in the Midwestern mid-hills of Nepal across four communities. We used mixed methodologies to conduct semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, and participant observation with local farmers and NGOs. Through a feminist political ecology (FPE) lens, the goal was to better understand how the feminization of agriculture affects and is affected by IPM practices and decision-making. This research responds to a growing interest within development in the feminization of agriculture as a potentially empowering or disempowering global process of change, conceptualized through the ways that male out-migration affects the labor and decision-making roles of women and other household members left behind on the farm. We find that contextual factors change the implications of the feminization of agriculture narrative. Co-residence with in-laws and different migration patterns affect the dynamic and varied nature of household structure and headship. Furthermore, migration patterns have pushed women to take on new agricultural duties and manage increasing household labor responsibilities. Yet, IPM vegetable cultivation is changing how farmers use and value their land through increasing crop diversification. These agricultural decision-making processes extend beyond the household, and participation in community spaces through the IPM project may contest traditional gender norms. We contend that the heterogeneity of household power dynamics muddies the potentially empowering or disempowering effects of the feminization of agriculture, and we emphasize the importance of community spaces as a locus of decision-making in the sustainability of new agricultural technologies.