Australia’s federal government has decided to invest A$2.2 million ($1.6 million) in a blockchain initiative as a way to make its key sugar production more competitive, local media reported on Tuesday. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s coalition backed Sustainable Sugar Project, which targets Queensland, the major sugar export region of Australia.
The initiative will use blockchain capabilities to improve productivity, profitability, and sustainability in the sugarcane farms. Developed as a distributed ledger technology (DLT), the cryptocurrency technology can lower costs, quicken transactions and bring transparency as it tracks all activities.
It is vital for consumers and food manufacturers to know where sugar comes from, according to David Littleproud, the Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources. The minister thinks that buyers are likely to pay more in the future for feasible and traceable sugar as this product becomes more and more popular worldwide.
“Because the demand for sustainably-produced food continues to grow, this project will help to increase exports and help gain better access to markets to capitalize on our important free trade agreements,” David Littleproud, the Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources, told Food Navigator Asia.
The Sustainable Sugar Project is voluntary, industry-led and industry-owned. It is developed by the Queensland Cane Growers Organization (Canegrowers) and will continue for four years. The project will integrate Smartcane Best Management Practice (BMP) and industry-developed rules with blockchain functions. BMP consists of several guidelines for sugarcane growing including soil health and plant nutrition management as well as workplace health and safety requirements.
“The Sustainable Sugar Project aims to meet the needs of end-users who require sustainably-produced sugar and to develop transparency around a market for that sugar. By using Smartcane BMP and blockchain technology, Canegrowers is seeking to provide provenance for our product, increase our market access and provide greater value to growers and the market,” Canegrowers spokesperson said.
The sugar industry is significant for Australia. It was estimated at A$ 1.7 billion ($1.2 billion) in 2016/2017, according to Food Navigator Asia with Queensland accounting for 95% of sugar production. Asian countries such as South Korea, Japan, and Indonesia are the key markets for Australian sugar.