The aim of CariCrop is to investigate the potential of new technologies to support regional food production and trade in the Caribbean, particularly targeting the goals of the Regional Food and Nutrition Security Policy (RFNSP) of the CARICOM (Caribbean Community and Common Market).
The project has been carried out with key partners in the Caribbean including farmer associations, governmental institutions such as IICA and CARICOM, and researchers from the University of West Indies Mona and St Augustine. Together, we have looked at issues faced by farmers in St Lucia and Jamaica and how blockchain technologies could support production and local trade. The effort was focused on the exploration of bottom up infrastructures facilitated by blockchain characteristics such as decentralisation and immutability of records, timestamping and digital signatures, automation through smart contracts, transparency of transactions, etc.
The study was focused on a bridge-currency (presented in the video) which aimed to decrease insecurity of payments. Oftentimes, exchanges between farmers and buyers, as well as businesses that sell goods to farmers, take place through informal agreements of debt which are hard to track. There is an awareness that farmers will pay for goods (e.g. at input shops) as soon as payment for produce is received from intermediaries or businesses (e.g. hotels). Such intermediaries/businesses, in turn, often need to wait until some profit has been made from final consumers in order to pay farmers, which risk to delay further production. In other words, while fresh produce needs to reach final consumers quickly, payments tend to be slow at reaching farmers, which also slows down the process of further production.
The response for this dilemma is often offered by the removal of the entity with the intermediary role. If farmers sell directly to final consumers there is no need to wait. This intermediary role, however adds huge value to the system. Traders, hotels, supermarkets and other intermediaries have important roles that include quality control, market research, and transport and distribution of goods.
How it works
We designed an application to ensure that transactions continue to take place within a trusted infrastructure while buyers guarantee resources for de facto payments to take place. This takes places through a bridge-currency that operates based on agreements that a certain monetary transaction will take place in the near future.
When a transaction is made, payment is agreed by both parties and the amount is released immediately in the Caricrop bridge-currently. The farmer can then use this currency at input shops and general stores while these payments are securely tracked on the blockchain. When the business guarantees enough funds and is able to pay for the purchased produce, the de facto payment is released. A smart contract follows the digital chain of transaction and distributes money to all establishments on record. In other words, this smart contract guarantees the delivery of money to all new owners as registered in the payment tree in the blockchain.
Larissa Pschetz (project lead and concept development)
Billy Dixon (concept, design and prototyping)
Kruakae Pothong (concept, deliberation workshops)
Luis Soares (user studies and deliberation workshops)
In Edinburgh, the project counted on the participation of Marisa Wilson, Jess Enright, and Kate Symons.
In the Caribbean, it was developed in close partnership with Arlene Bailey (University of West Indies Mona), Allister Glean (IICA), with input from Margaret Bernard (University of West Indies St Augustine), Tracey Wright (ECTAD), and Nigel Durrant (CARICOM).
The project was funded by the the SFA Global Challenges Research fund.