CERES TruBlo Project

Project CERES (TruBlo OC3)A Blockchain Proof of Location and Certification System for Agriculture and Aquaculture

Project CERES, funded under TruBlo OC3, aims to promote transactional efficiency in agriculture and to develop confidence in the provenance declarations of agricultural producers, intermediaries and retailers.

To further this purpose, CERES is working towards providing a triangulated proof-of-location service and a digitalised agricultural smart contract architecture in order to address two interrelated difficulties in agriculture. The project will create a blockchain application for use by farmers, logistics firms, processors, landholders, professionals, retailers, consumers and other participants in the agricultural value chain.

The system will provide a decentralised and tamper-resistant solution for tracking the provenance of agricultural products and for validating smart contracts pertaining to sales and credit arrangements, while acting as an escrow.

The agriculture sector is a crucial part of the global economy and is responsible for feeding billions of people. However, it also faces numerous challenges such as increasing demands for food production, changing climate patterns, fraudulent labelling practices, and the need to promote more sustainable agricultural practices. Project CERES aims to address these challenges by using a combination of best available technologies to monitor and manage activities along the agricultural value chain in a more efficient, transparent and sustainable manner.

One of the primary challenges that Project CERES addresses is the need to improve transparency and accountability in the agricultural sector. Today, irrespectively of the country, there is a lack of transparency and accountability in the production and supply of agricultural goods, making it difficult for consumers to trust the origin and quality of the food they eat. In this sense, some countries have it better and some countries have it worse, but given the globally-integrated food supply chain, fraudulent practices in one country usually impact other countries too, and the monitoring and enforcement practices that could be implemented to weed out abuse are so prohibitively costly that it would make food much more expensive than it is at present. This has led to instances of fraudulent labelling and illegal importation practices that have shaken, and continue to shake, consumer trust in the sector.

Another significant challenge facing the agricultural sector is the structure and the magnitude of the transactions costs. Right now, the transaction costs associated with the agricultural sector are quite considerable. This leads to inefficiencies, lower profits, and missed opportunities for farmers and other stakeholders in the value chain. Some of the factors contributing to high transaction costs in agriculture include:

Information asymmetry: Lack of information about prices, quality, and supply chain can result in higher transaction costs for farmers and other stakeholders, as they have to invest time and resources into obtaining the necessary information to make informed decisions.

Logistics: The physical transportation of crops, livestock, and other agricultural products can be costly and time-consuming, especially for small farmers who are located in remote areas.

Regulations and bureaucracy: Government regulations and bureaucracy can also contribute to high transaction costs, as farmers have to navigate complex procedures and rules in order to participate in the market. While several rules are paramount in ensuring food safety and in combating fraud, the way they are dealt with by the stakeholders do not always ensure in that compliance costs are kept at optimal levels, often resulting in compliance costs that are significantly higher than what they need to be.

Intermediaries: The involvement of intermediaries in the agricultural value chain, such as bankers, brokers and traders, can add to the cost of transactions, as they typically charge fees for their services. By way of an example, a Letter of Credit typically accounts for 5% to 6% of the total transaction cost, and this is a very significant expense.

The high transaction costs associated with agriculture can have significant impacts on the sector, including reduced profitability and competitiveness, lower efficiency and productivity, and lower income levels for farmers.

A third challenge that Project CERES addresses is the need to increase food production while preserving natural resources. The world population is expected to grow to 9.7 billion by 2050, and the demand for food will only increase. At the same time, the degradation of natural resources such as soil, water, and forests has already reached critical levels in many regions, making it difficult to sustain agricultural activities.

Project CERES’ solution to these challenges is a platform that leverages a suite of the latest technologies to monitor and manage activities along the agricultural value chain in a more efficient, transparent, and sustainable manner. The platform integrates various tools, such as blockchain, computer vision, business intelligence and satellite imagery, to gather data and provide information about the state of registered landholdings and the production of crops. This information is then used to improve decision-making, reduce costs, and promote more sustainable practices.

One of the ways Project CERES addresses the lack of transparency and accountability in the agricultural sector is by tracking the movement of goods from farm to fork. The platform uses blockchain technology to create a secure and transparent ledger of transactions that can be audited by all stakeholders in the value chain and which ensures that the origin, quality, and safety of agricultural goods are transparent and easily-verifiable, thus contributing to a rebuilding of consumer trust in the sector.

In addition, Project CERES reduces transaction costs by providing a single platform for all stakeholders in the value chain to exchange information and conduct transactions in a secure and inexpensive manner. The platform eliminates some of the need for intermediaries and reduces the time and resources required to obtain information, streamlining processes and reducing costs. The platform will also leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to optimise logistics, reducing transportation costs and ensuring that goods reach their destination faster and more efficiently, while abating costs and pollution.

Finally, Project CERES promotes more sustainable practices by monitoring the use of natural resources, helping farmers to adopt more sustainable farming methods and informing consumers about the provenance of what they are about to buy. The platform provides information about the environmental cost of the product, enabling customers to make informed decisions about how to purchase in line with their environmental and sustainability principles. Additionally, the platform uses satellite imagery to monitor land use and detect deforestation, thus helping to protect precious ecosystems and promote more sustainable agricultural practices.

Project CERES also aims to develop a wider ecosystem around its innovative Proof of Location (PoL) mechanism. These additional services shall be announced here as soon as they are in beta version.

Project CERES is intended to be a comprehensive solution that addresses the major challenges facing the agricultural sector by promoting transparency, reducing costs, and promoting sustainability. By leveraging the latest technology, Project CERES creates a more efficient, transparent, and sustainable agriculture sector that benefits farmers, consumers, and the environment.

Project CERES is currently under development and shall be launched in beta version in Quarter 4 2023.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement No. 957228.

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