Blockchain Program for Small Family Farms w/ Henry Ines

Interview with Henry Ines, CEO of Chainparency

Show Notes

Did you know there’s a new opportunity for small family farms to use blockchain technology? It’s called the Global Acceleration Program for Sustainability, or GAPS for short. Henry Ines, CEO of Chainparency, discusses the benefits of GAPS and its ability to empower small family farms.

Learn more about Avé Organics: www.aveorganics.com 

Learn more about Chainparency: www.chainparency.com 

Connect with our guest on LinkedIn

#agriculture #blockchain #familyfarming #farming #organicagriculture #organicfarming #sustainability

Podcast Transcription

INTRO: Welcome to Organics Unpacked, a podcast for the business-minded organic grower, where we hear from top experts in the commercial organic industry. With a focus on the business elements of organic growing both in and out of the field, you will gain insight and grow your operation. This show is brought to you by Avé Organics, a Wilbur-Ellis company. Here’s our host, Tom Buman.

TOM: Henry Ines, CEO of Chainparency, welcome back to the show, Henry.

HENRY: Thanks so much, Tom. Great to be back on the show.

TOM: Yeah, it’s been a while since we had you, and we had a lot of listening audience at the time, a lot of people looking that up. So we thought we would see what’s up with Chainparency and get a little refresher on what you guys are doing these days.

HENRY: Sure, sure.

Global Acceleration Program for Sustainability

TOM: So let’s start. I know you’ve got a new program out, Henry, called GAPS. Why don’t you tell us what GAPS stands for and then a little bit of background on it?

HENRY: So GAPS is a program that we launched a few months back at Chainparency. And basically, what it stands for is the Global Acceleration Program for Sustainability. And what we’re really trying to do here is, really, two key areas. One is that we’re really, of course, trying to advance efforts towards sustainability. But particularly, in this case, we’re talking about ways in which we can empower and help farmers in the United States. And these are particularly small family farms. So, if you’re earning a gross revenue below a certain threshold annually, you could be eligible for the GAPS program. And if you’re eligible, what that means is that you’re able to use some of our digital tools and applications on a complimentary basis.

GAPS for Small Family Farms

TOM: Give me an example of why a small organic farmer would want to sign up for the GAPS program. What’s the benefit to them?

HENRY: I think, first and foremost, depending on how they’re maintaining their records at this point, this is an opportunity to be able to use our really turnkey applications to digitize their records. So, right out of the bat, you have an opportunity to be able to move towards digitization, digital records. That’s one part. The second part may be that you are pursuing some certification. You are in the process of pursuing certifications. Having some of our tools and applications can help you to facilitate the certification process. This could be for organic, or maybe you’ve got chain-of-custody requirements that you are tracking right now. But you can do it in a much more secure and auditable manner using our digital technology applications. And, oh, I’m sorry. I was just going to say one more thing beyond that, Tom. Obviously, once you have digital records and you’re harvesting, as you prepare to distribute your products throughout the supply chain, this is also the great opportunity to be able to granularly track/​trace. And this is real-time track and trace, recording and capturing key data elements, critical tracking events, all on a blockchain ledger. So this becomes really compelling because you can provide that transparency to buyers. And at the end of the day, consumers will be able to have that confidence and trust in the food, proteins, produce, whatever it is that they’re consuming, because they can see the entire provenance of the particular food products. So this is a great overall way to have efficiencies, to have accountability, to have maintained digital records, drive some operational efficiencies, but also to uniquely connect in a way with the consumers and to uniquely connect with them so they can have a more enriched experience for the food products that they’re consuming.

Using Blockchain in Organic Farming

TOM: So let’s do a concrete example. I’m raising organic beef, right? And I have my cattle out on grassland, and I’m grazing them. They’ve all got ear tags. That’s normal. So walk me through the benefit of blockchain and how I track that beef through the chain of custody.

HENRY: In the case of livestock, one could be perhaps for the claims that you’re making around that livestock. The data that you’re recording and capturing for that, that could be one area alone to keep on a blockchain or distributed ledger because that will substantiate the claims that you’re making, whether that be grass-fed/grass-finished and the feed that they’re consuming, how they’re grazing. These are things that substantiate claims that you’re making around that particular protein or livestock. The other element that might be quite interesting is that as you monitor this livestock, as they’re out grazing, it also may be indicative of the health of the animal. So that kind of data, you can real-time capture and put that on a blockchain, as well. And of course, once the livestock are prepared to be consumed and they’re distributed throughout the supply chain, you used the example of the ear tag. That could really facilitate all the chain-of-custody scans from the moment that the livestock is at the farm, at the ranch, all the way as it moves through the supply chain. Eventually getting into the retail market, where you could even just scan a QR code to be able to see all of that information around the particular livestock, maybe down to the ranch level if that’s the desire. But at the minimum, you can see the provenance of the protein and then some information as it relates to the claims that you’re making for that particular livestock.

Chain of Custody

TOM: So, if I’m an owner of a restaurant and I want to serve a special kind of beef, I could actually have a QR code that somebody could scan. And you could see the chain of custody back to the ranch or the farm of where that beef came from. Is that right?

HENRY: Yes. You could geofence a particular area. So maybe there’s not a desire to have it all the way to the ranch or farm level, but you can certainly do it to a geofenced area. And from there, you could have all those timestamps, GPS events, latitude/​longitude coordinates and any other important metadata. Maybe there’s a cold chain element. But all of these things can be recorded through sensors and then real-time captured on a blockchain. And yeah, that would provide tremendous granularity for consumers to be able to see where the particular protein is coming from. And I would say this is particularly important. If your proteins are premium and you’re making claims around them, this is a way to ensure that it’s an authentic product that the consumers will be purchasing and consuming.

Empowering Small Family Farms

TOM: Yeah, I often think that people go through a lot of work to have certain traits, whether it’s grain or livestock, and then they get frustrated because they can’t really push those traits in a story through the supply chain. It’s like, I did my job, but how do I tell this story?’ And what I’m hearing from you is that blockchain is really a great way of telling that story as those products move on through the supply chain.

HENRY: Yes. These ranchers and farmers, they work so hard. And there’s so much care that goes into these products in the harvest and production. They should be rewarded for it. And this is why when you’re using blockchain technology, and, again, back to the GAPS program, we want to empower all of these harvesters and producers to be able to use these digital tools. Blockchain becomes sort of the trusted source of data. And in many ways, if you’re using these types of digital applications and tools, you can potentially drive considerable efficiencies and eliminate some of the intermediaries and middlemen that sometimes control this data. But all of that becomes auditable on a blockchain, and you will better connect the end consumer with the first metal harvesters and producers. And what we hope at the end of the day is that they get premium pricing and better economic livelihoods out of it.

TOM: So the GAPS program — again, Global Acceleration Program for Sustainability — is free to small farmers that meet a size criteria, right?

HENRY: Yeah, to an annual revenue. So we’re saying currently, right now, below $350,000 U.S. If that’s what you’re earning at the moment, you would be eligible. So we have a very basic application process, just obviously to confirm that you meet this criteria. But yeah, once you go through it and you’re approved, then, to start, you would have 12-month complimentary use of our GoTrace application.

Simplifying Blockchain Technology

TOM: For a lot of people, the term blockchain, it sounds very complicated, very technical. As a small producer that has access to the GAPS program, what do I need for knowledge and technology to make your GAPS program work?

HENRY: So we’ve developed our application in a really easy-to-use, unique manner. So, today, as long as you’ve got a mobile device — Android or iOS — and, basically, access to a printer to print out our unique, auto-generated QR codes, that’s all you would need to get started using the GoTrace system. And very simple to use, you would just go to our website. You would log into your account, subscribe. Typically, you would just subscribe just like any other online account. And you’d be able to download your version of the app that you would be using in your supply chain, and that’s it. You can start using chain-of-custody scans and manage your supply chain and do all the track and trace just quite simply with your mobile device.

Getting Started with Chainparency

TOM: So how do I get started if I want to sign up for this? I know there’s a sign-up, so I assume that we go to Chainparency’s website. Is there training? If I wanted to start today, what are the steps I need to take, Henry?

HENRY: Go to our website, Chain​paren​cy​.com. At our website, we have a section dedicated to GAPS. You would just click on it, and there’s a brief application form that you would fill out. Then, once we go through that, we’ll contact the applicant. And once it’s all validated, yeah, you’d be able to start using the application. We have resources dedicated and available to provide some customer support and basic training. We also have quite a few online tutorials, as well, in a knowledge repository where users can check at their leisure if they have any additional questions. But yeah, there are resources available. We certainly want to make sure that all users are comfortable using the application. And if they have any issues come up, we’re available to help.

TOM: Thanks, Henry. I appreciate your time today, and it’s great to know more about the GAPS program. And hopefully, it’s something that small farmers take advantage of, so they can really show the chain of custody and the work that they’ve put into their products.

HENRY: Absolutely. Yeah, thank you so much, Tom, for having me back on.

OUTRO: Thank you for listening to Organics Unpacked. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider subscribing and giving this show a five-star rating and review, so we can continue to help organic growers improve their operations.