What started as a niche technology backing crypto currencies, today is one of the biggest disruptive forces that will enable a paradigm shift in key industries of the world. According to a recent survey by Deloitte, over 95% of the businesses are investing in blockchain. Progressive players in agriculture, healthcare, logistics et al are investing big bucks to explore possibilities.
As an innovating enterprise, Eka has always envisioned a forward looking agriculture ecosystem, and it was with this vision that we invested in a pilot for blockchain for coffee growers of India – to understand how a paradigm shift can be brought about and how adoption challenges for farmers can be mitigated in a country which is Asia’s 3rd largest producer and exporter of coffee and where 15.45% of the GDP comes from the agriculture sector.

How the Eka Blockchain Solution Works

We started by creating a traceability solution through blockchain to help increase transparency, accountability and efficiency of the coffee supply chain. While blockchain was the technology of choice, we did not want to lose focus on the problems of adoption and ease of use. The thought was to develop a system with a user interface so simple that the average Indian uneducated farmer doesn’t find it overwhelming. Simplicity is at the core of the app right from registration to support.

Blockchain Enabled Marketplace for Farmers
  • Registration: Farmers and traders register on the portal. Approval requests are sent to the approving authority (in this case the Coffee Board).
  • Price Discovery: After registration approval, farmers can upload the price list for the coffee crop. Traders can see the prices on their farmer connect mobile app.
  • Blockchain-based Market Place: After approval of the bid, traders can create smart contracts with farmers and trace them through the blockchain.
  • Community Support Through Online Chat: Farmers can chat online with traders through the app in real time, and seek advice or exchange business critical information, which will be recorded forever in the App.

The Eka Coffee Board Project

Eka Software has partnered with the Coffee Board to introduce what is only the third attempt to use blockchain in the coffee trade. It is, however, the first blockchain enabled private market place for coffee in the world. India joins Ethiopia and France as one of the few countries that have brought in groundbreaking innovation in the world of coffee. There are, however, key differences in the way blockchain has been adopted by these three countries.

What sets the Coffee Board of India project apart is its focus on empowering the farmers by use of an Ethereum-enabled market place. There are about 350,000 coffee growers in the country; 98% of them are small growers. Most of these growers do not have proper market access. The price discovery process is cumbersome and non-transparent.

The use of Ethereum smart contracts enables EKA and the Coffee Board to design the nuances of the smart contract. The contract is immutable and captures counter party information, quality, quantity and ratings. The current smart contract has been made future ready to also include digital certificates and payment gateways in the next phase. This ensures that the project is agile enough to accommodate any future changes and technologies in graduation, without excessive time and resource efforts.

What’s Next for Agriculture and Blockchain 

To quote Einstein, we are only limited by our imaginations when it comes to possibilities. I feel strongly about changing the dynamics of the food pyramid, so that the farmer is no longer on the raw end of the deal. Times are-a-changing, slow as they might be, but these are steps in the right direction.

And it’s not just the farmers that will witness change, but all the relevant stakeholders in the value chain as well. From traders, manufacturers and distributors, all the way to consumers, we will no longer be passive but active participants in this workflow.

Ultimately the goal is that the automated blockchain payment systems will positively impact the farmer livelihoods by creating mobile money transactions, reducing agents/broker interference, decreasing physical documentation and ensuring that payments happen in real time.

To discuss more on our blockchain solution, please write to shuchi.nijhawan@ekaplus.com


Shuchi Nijhawan is VP, New Business & Global HR at Eka. Shuchi holds a dual role at Eka where she leads agri-business development globally while managing all human resources functions. In her endeavor to make Eka a best-in-class company for which to work, she sets the strategy and implementation plan for attracting the most exceptional talent to Eka. She is a hands-on business-oriented leader with a keen eye to detail and an analytics-based approach to solving challenges- people oriented or otherwise.