Jiwaka launches traceability system using blockchain for pig farmers

Posted on:Apr 01, 2019News

Pig farmers in the Jiwaka Province will benefit from a livestock traceability system using the blockchain technology, courtesy of the PNG E-Agriculture initiative. A pilot project was launched on March 11 2019 at the Provincial Headquarters in Kurumul, followed by field deployment of the system involving interested pig farmers from the North and South Whagi districts.

The initiative was part of the implementation of the PNG National E-Agriculture Strategy, a partnership between the Department of Agriuclture and Livestock (DAL); Department of Communication, Information Technology and Energy (DCITE); and National Information and Communication Technology Authority (NICTA) in partnership with the Jiwaka Provincial Administration (JPA) with technical assistance from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Communication Union (ITU).

During the launch, FAO Head of Office Ken Shimizu said that traceability in food and agriculture along the supply chain is crucial for food safety, quality and integrity.

Shimizu said in the face of emerging global challenges such as climate change and disease outbreak, effective traceability systems provide relevant information to agri-business actors to better manage risks and facilitate corrective actions. He added that traceability also enhances consistency in the supply of traceable products with cost effectiveness, safety and quality assurance to meet consumer demands.

“The integration of the blockchain technology in traceability offers exciting opportunities in the digital landscape with greater transparency, enhanced security, improved traceability and increased efficiency,” said Shimizu.

Jiwaka is the first province in the world to adopt the modern blockchain technology in field application involving smallholder farmers.

The system has been developed by Switch Marven of Sydney, Australia, whose experts were in the province training the farmers on the system’s application.  The training involved tagging of pigs, demonstrations on a mobile app on how to populate the system, scanning of tagged pigs for information, and good pig husbandry practices.

Traceability in the value chain of livestock, watermelon, capsicum, coffee and other agriculture produce has been identified as a priority e-agriculture solution for the Jiwaka Province during recent consultations involving the partners and local farmers.

The launch was attended by representatives of DAL, FAO, NICTA, JPA, various agriculture agencies, farmer groups and the benefiting pig farmers.

The JPA presented K14 000 to the Jiwaka Women and Youth in Agriculture in support of the e-agriculture initiative in the province. When presenting the cheque on behalf of the provincial administration, Deputy Administrator Joe Garap said the piloting of traceability on pigs using ICTs in the Jiwaka Province was a commendable choice made by the PNG E-Agriculture Programme. Garap said pig was important in subsistence agriculture in the province and so maintaining a digital traceability system would ensure transparency, trust and quality for those who produce and consume the livestock.

Shimizu said the emerging developments in ICT offer huge opportunities to enhance smart and innovative agriculture for food security and to grow the economy.

“This week’s blockchain traceability system is trialled on pigs as a proof of concept given the socio-economic importance of pigs in Jiwaka and the Highlands region,” Shimizu said during the project launch.

He added that the concept can be applied to any agriculture produce and product, and can be replicated and expanded based on the lessons learnt.

Shimizu said the emerging developments in ICT offer huge opportunities to enhance smart and innovative agriculture for food security and to grow the economy.

The E-Agriculture Strategy was developed by the Government of PNG through a collaborationto transform the agriculture sector through innovative information and communication technologies in the face of the many conventional as well as emerging challenges.

Shimizu stated that the PNG E-agriculture initiative is aimed at harnessing the ICT potential of the country in achieving the agriculture goals and further strengthening the role of ICTs in accelerating the growth of the agriculture sector in a sustainable and equitable manner

He also acknowledged the advancements in ICT infrastructure in Jiwaka, one of very few outside of Port Moresby.

Under the e-agriculture collaboration, DAL and the partners also conducted an AgriTech training for the Jiwaka Women and Youth in Agriculture late last year. Braodband band connectivity will also be installed by NICTA to give better access to internet for farmers.

“Today we bring to you another project in the area of agriculture traceability, particularly livestock traceability using the blockchain technology,” Shimizu said.

“The learning opportunity will be crucial to the farmers to be innovative in this information age to improve the sales value of their produce, improve quality and establish a brand.”

The pig traceability training was supported by DAL, FAO, NICTA, DCITE and the JIwaka Provincial Administration.