OriginTrail and EU’s Smart Villages
What Blockchain-Based Technology Can Do for European Agriculture
The European Union is meeting challenges of rural development with concrete measures laid out in the EU Action for Smart Villages. OriginTrail was one of the few companies handpicked to present its work alongside senior European Union (EU) representatives at Lake Bled, Slovenia.
The Smart Villages initiative was launched to explore possibilities new technologies could bring to rural communities. At the event on April 13th, OriginTrail was joined by two EU commissioners, several members of the European Parliament, the deputy prime minister of Slovenia, and presidents of European professional associations.
Co-founder and COO Ziga Drev participated at a panel about smart farming and the future of EU’s common agricultural policy. Ziga highlighted how new technologies could affect agriculture, with blockchain-enabled data integrity offering new opportunities for visibility and fighting unfair practices.
Other participants included Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dejan Zidan, MSc, Slovenian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Government of the Republic of Slovenia, Franc Bogovic, Member of the European Parliament (EPP Group), Andrej Mertelj, Chairman of the Board, Datalab, Gilles Dryancour, Honorary President, CEMA, Pekka Pesonen, Secretary General, Copa Cogeca. The panel was moderated by Emil Erjavec, Ph.D., Vice Dean for Science and Research, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana.
Ziga was asked about what the agricultural sector can anticipate from new technologies and what OriginTrail expects from the EU’s agricultural policies. Here are the key ideas discussed at the panel Ziga participated in:
- Global supply chains are growing in complexity and it’s hard to maintain effective control and ensure integrity. The 2017 Lockton Food & Beverage Report revealed that 32% of manufacturers said they were unable to guarantee the ingredients they used were not fraudulent.
- OriginTrail started with a system that enables organic food producers to show the authenticity of their ingredients in order to differentiate them on the market.
- Despite government regulation efforts, producers still have problems differentiating their products. Legislation does not always equal fairness. For example, a cooperative could pay farmers 10% more for organic meat. They do this because primary producers invest more in producing organic livestock. However, a competitor could come in and say their meat is organic even though it is not, resulting in unfair market conditions. In Slovenia, OriginTrail is already tracing 40% of all of the country’s fermented dairy products on a daily basis with the blockchain. This is an unprecedented level of transparency.
- Future challenges: Interoperability of data silos across the supply chain needs to be enabled. OriginTrail is working on this already. We are also asking EU officials to open their databases and systems to decentralized solutions. Sometimes, auditing of the central authorities is not enough. Even food auditors need auditing.
- Food scandals such as the Brazilian meat scandal in 2017 usually reveal that food auditors can be corrupt. OriginTrail cross-references data sets to determine who is it to blame if something goes wrong — aligning accountability with responsibility. If something goes wrong — and, in general, this happens very often in complex supply chains — we will need less time to determine what happened and who is responsible.
Check out Ziga’s speech in its entirety:
OriginTrail founders and team members took advantage of the opportunity of being at the event to further present our solution to a diverse audience at our booth and during numerous personal talks. We would like to thank MEP Franc Bogovic for inviting OriginTrail to take part in the event.