South Africa needs to sharpen its innovative edge and continue contributing to global agricultural scientific-technological advancement. For the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) to continue to be at the forefront and compete on a global scale, there must be a greater investment in research and development, hence the organisation’s decision to participate in the Swiss Blockchain Hackathon.
The ARC works tirelessly to improve agricultural economics and capacity development as well as conduct research in animal and crop sciences necessary for the development of appropriate agricultural engineering techniques for producers. In South Africa, the ARC’s research and development project findings have been integral to the agricultural community’s successes for more than 100 years.
Digital innovation and the use of ICT will prove a masterstroke to unlocking agri-business to bridge the rural and urban divide.
To achieve this, the ARC understands the need to develop a comprehensive framework and action plans to deal with opportunities presented by Industry 4.0 while mitigating the risks of the transition to the agri-cultural digital industrial revolution.
In line with Industry 4.0, there is a need for the ARC, as a custodian of agricultural research on behalf of the South African government, to safeguard food security for the future across the agricultural value chain using internet of things, AI and distributed ledger technology.
South Africa’s agriculture and food sector is faced with challenges that include transparency and traceability related to sources and safety of foods. Consumers are increasingly demanding more information on the sources of their food; how the food has been produced; and issues relating to animal welfare and carbon footprint. The sector must produce food that adheres to consumer tastes and preferences while being produced in an environmentally benign manner. It is in this area that the ARC believes blockchain can help foster innovation to support and develop the agricultural sector.
Blockchain technology is based on transparency, security, and authenticity, and it has the potential to reduce time delays, added costs and human error.
For the agriculture sector, blockchain technology has the potential to improve transparency and provide a platform to digitise the flow of assets in the value chain between partners and in turn, deliver safe and quality produced food consistently.
The ARC collaborates with other global industry leaders in the agriculture and food sector to share ideas on how to address challenges and leverage opportunities presented by Industry 4.0. The ARC is committed to providing scientific knowledge as well as technical support and expertise to the agricultural sector as a whole. The ARC is also committed to supporting programmes of government through its training to alleviate poverty and hunger.
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