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IBM, Heifer International to Assist Honduras Farmers Access Global Markets Using Blockchain

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Coffee and cocoa farmers in Honduras are getting a helping hand to gain access to new markets and improve supply chain logistics with blockchain technology.

Tech giant International Business Machines and Heifer International, a global nonprofit that seeks to end poverty by promoting sustainable farming, will assist in the process, according to a press release on Wednesday.

Those purchasing cocoa through Heifer Honduras’ Chocolate4All project will be able to trace the provenance of goods using IBM’s Food Trust, a network that uses blockchain technology to connect and validate participants in supply chains.

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The technology is designed to give buyers a way to reliably purchase beans through Copranil, one of the oldest coffee cooperatives in the western highlands of Honduras.

In order to trace beans along a supply chain, users are given access to IBM’s private blockchain, on which Food Trust is built. Users can then upload data onto the network. They can also access documents through the network. That is designed to ensure an equitable exchange of information.

Heifer first uploads the information about plants that are shipped to farmers. Post-harvest, farmers are required to tag and ship their beans to Copranil processors.

Additional data is then uploaded to the blockchain regarding the status of the beans, including how they were cleaned, dried and roasted under the framework of the Fair Trade coffee regulations. From there, corporate buyers can view all the information to understand the prices of the goods sold.

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Heifer says small-scale coffee farmers operate at an average 46%-59% loss with farmers reaping less than 1% of the profits from a cup of coffee sold. The aim is to increase their profit margins, the companies say.

“When the people drinking our coffee know where it comes from, the farmers in our cooperative benefit,” said Copranil Vice President Jorge Lopez. “Food Trust can help our network of farmers command a better premium for their beans, and potentially improve their livelihoods.”

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