CBH trials a new blockchain network

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BUSINESS could soon be done differently through the CBH Group as the bulk handler begins a new trial, exploring the potential for blockchain technology within the agriculture industry.

The co-operative is teaming up with Sydney based agtech start-up AgriDigital for a pilot going live in South Australia this week at oats processor Blue Lake Milling, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CBH.

Blockchain technology was devised for the digital currency bitcoin, where it was used as a digital ledger of economic transactions.

CBH Group chief executive Andrew Crane said the technology effectively created a decentralised record of transaction that could be public, or private, to groups which have access to specially created blockchain networks.

“It is secure, tamper proof and unchangeable, each time a transaction occurs a block of data is added to this digitised chain or record that each different user on the blockchain can see,” Dr Crane said.

“This means the need for intermediary (third parties), double data entry and reconciliation between different user systems is removed.”

The pilot will be one of the first of its kind globally and will run using AgriDigital’s agri-blockchains and smart contract library.

The trial objectives are to prove the application of blockchain in providing full supply chain traceability and executing the settlement of commodities on a blockchain by matching a title transfer to a payment in a single transaction.

AgriDigital chief executive Emma Weston said blockchain and distributed ledger technologies were already being shown to hold exciting opportunities in agriculture.

“The potential of blockchain to increase efficiency and trust throughout agri-supply chains is broad – including providing back-office cost savings, creating digital title to commodities, removing double data entry, proving a clear chain of custody and supporting full traceability of commodities,” she said.

“Through the pilot, CBH and AgriDigital are not only proving out blockchain technology, but we are demonstrating that a start-up and a large player in the grains industry can work together and collaborate to solve problems.”

Mr Crane said the pilot was one of the first projects to be undertaken as the co-operative explored the possibilities of emerging technology across the business.

He said the technology had the potential to improve the supply chain and reduce costs.

“If the concept works in practice, the technology could provide growers with an opportunity to gain transactional efficiencies, simply making it cheaper for growers to sell grain and further digitise the supply chain,” Dr Crane said.

He said the success of the pilot would be based on whether there was operational efficiencies and risk mitigation benefits through the use of blockchain to settle grower transactions and authenticate information of an asset.

Mr Crane said the trial would not be judged as a “pass or fail” and he hoped it would allow the CBH Group to gain a greater understanding of the affect of using blockchain in the supply chain.

Results from the trial are expected to be available at the end of this year.

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