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Issue paper

Emerging opportunities for the application of blockchain in the agri-food industry

Distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) and smart contracts provide a unique opportunity to bring greater efficiency, transparency and traceability to the exchange of value and information in the agriculture sector. By utilising digital records, cryptography and the disintermediation of transaction processing and data storage, DLTs can improve both agricultural supply chains and rural development interventions in a number of ways. The technology has the potential to simplify and integrate agricultural supply chains, enhance food safety, facilitate access to trade finance and other types of agricultural financial services, improve market transparency, provide greater legal certainty to land-tenure systems and strengthen accountability for compliance with international agreements related to agriculture.

This paper aims to facilitate a better understanding of the opportunities, benefits and applications of DLTs in agri-foods. It explores the potential of DLTs to address many of the challenges that disadvantaged market players face by participating in integrated supply chains. It also identifies the technical limits, possible institutional barriers to their adoption and the way forward for the public sector. Overall, it shows how DLTs can be an impetus to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The updated version of this publication is available Emerging Opportunities for the Application of Blockchain in the Agri-food Industry (2020)