Many farmers in Africa are unbanked and may not even have access to the Internet. But tech startup E-Livestock Global is offering a blockchain solution for such customers that makes use of an RFID system to trace cows’ histories, enabling buyers to learn about a cow’s health records among other valuable information.
For a subscription fee of just U.S.$2, a cow is implanted with an RFID tag and its history is updated throughout the animal’s lifecycle. The electronic ID system adds value to the livestock, says company CEO Chris Light.
Chris, a technologist whose background is in the international development sector, tells Charles Miller on this episode of CoinGeek Conversations, “By getting health care and having it through our system, we’re offering [farmers] healthier cows and reduced mortality.”
Chris says the platform is designed with the farmers’ digital and financial inclusion in mind. As he points out, “Some of the pilot farmers, they don’t use technology and they’re not in the banking system… but they don’t need to have a cell phone to use our system, they just need to be enrolled in it.”
With the use of blockchain technology, E-Livestock Global delivers an identification system for livestock much as humans can be identified through passports and ID cards. With the use of their service, buyers will be able to purchase cattle remotely and not have to fly to Africa to inspect the animal in person. They simply need to check the data recorded on the blockchain.
“We use the blockchain for provenance,” Chris says, “so you can’t fudge the record—which wouldn’t happen with the paper systems.”
A pilot study tested their platform in Africa with 10,000 animals. But as Chris reveals, they have access to a market of livestock of up to 25 million to date and plan on branching out to four countries. And it’s not just cows that their system can help with. He says it also works with sheep, pigs, and goats: “Our system is ready to do all that.”
The company is hoping to make a public announcement in the near future about the work they are doing with the London-based blockchain development business, nChain. “I think we will get into payments …we’re going to be a little less supply chain but a little more of value add,” he notes.
With E-Livestock Global’s digital system in place, not only will the animals benefit but so will the company’s customers, says Chris. “We envision as we get to scale that we’re going to have different customers, we’re going to have commercial farmers, smallholder farmers, governments and large organizations.”
At present, cows have ear tags to help farmers identify cattle for their records. But with E-Livestock’s vision, these may not be necessary in the future. So MOOve on over ear tags! Blockchain RFIDs might be here to stay!
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