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Amru’s Bloc Rice project scaling from 50 to 500 household farmers

Amru Rice in 2020 has scaled up the BlocRice technology project to 500 households in two communities in Preah Vihear province.

BlocRice project phase I had 50 household farmers in one agricultural community in Preah Vihear province. The project, a first in the Kingdom because of its usage of blockchain technology, was launched in April 2018 as a pilot programme that ended in March 2019. Its goal is to ensure farmers can sell their products at a higher price and it also enables the source of food to be identified.

The BlocRice pilot involved relevant actors in the rice supply chain with 50 farmers from the Reaksmei cooperative, rice exporter AmruRice, rice-cake producer SanoRice and Oxam Novib and Schullelaar & Partners.

The first phase was also involved in the research phase determining the living income benchmark and good agriculture practices plus technological needs. The project also monitors the progress of rice farmers towards a living income; improves farm income from rice and from other sources as a result of technical assistance and extension services; reduces operational costs through farmers’ cooperatives and gives farmers a digital identity and voice in the supply chain as well as increasing transparency in the supply chain. Retailers and consumers have real-time insight in the rice supply chain for enhanced social auditing.

Amru Rice’s CEO and Chairman, Song Saran during the panel discussion of launching bloc Rice phase 1, photo Oxfam

Our goal is to utilise Blockchain technology for millions of households not only in rice but all agricultural crops. Local tech firms or individuals with block chain knowledge and expertise would be part of the future (localisation).

Mr. Kan Kunthy, Vice president of Amru Rice told Khmer Times.

Mr. Kunthy said that it is only possible if farmers and ACs are organized and integrated, turning them from seasonal farmers to commercial and professional farmers who are market-oriented.

“The digital infrastructure can only perform given that the physical infrastructure can support [be it logistics, transportation, post-harvest management, storage and delivery],” Kunthy added. “The ultimate goal is to train and educate ACs to become ‘agri-preneurs’.”

Farmers use the BlocRice mobile app to enter data on their rice farming and production, and to track payments. Photo Oxfam

The project tests how farmers can be empowered by having information about their supply chain and by electronic verification of their contract conditions. The project will introduce cashless payments to a number of farmers. Payments into bank accounts enable electronic verification of payment by the buyer to a farmer, being a correct and timely (according to the contract) payment or not.

The project also test a digital contract between primary producers organized in an Agricultural Cooperative, a Cambodian rice exporter and a manufacturer in The Netherlands, to improve farmers’ livelihoods and their supply chain conditions. The project will design an electronic user platform with an application (app) providing full value chain transparency and traceability to the cooperative, exporter and importer, but also to the end consumers. In that way, the consumer will know for sure that farmers have been paid correctly for their rice which contributes to their sustainable livelihood. The consumers are enabled to make an informed and conscious choice for a rice that complies with social conditions and fair production standards. This project provides transparency and information to the value chain actors. This is expected to provide small rice farmers with more influence so as to and secure their own livelihoods.

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