Wang Qiang, China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, etc.: Discussion on the application value of blockchain in the field of “agriculture, rural areas and farmers”
On February 5, 2020, the Central Committee’s No. 1 document “Opinions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council on Doing a Good Job in the “Three Rural” Areas to Ensure an All-round Well-off Society as Scheduled” was released. The document clearly pointed out that it is necessary to rely on existing resources to build agricultural and rural big data centers. , To accelerate the application of modern information technologies such as the Internet of Things, big data, blockchain, artificial intelligence, 5G, and smart weather in the agricultural field. This is also the first time that blockchain, as a cutting-edge technology in the digital age, has been written into the Central No. 1 document. With the continuous development of information technology, the importance of the application of blockchain technology in the field of “agriculture, rural areas and farmers” has become increasingly prominent.
1. Blockchain is efficiently helping the development of the “three rural” fields
According to the data in the “Rural Revitalization Strategic Plan Implementation Report (2018-2019)”, the contribution rate of my country’s agricultural science and technology progress in 2019 has increased from 27% in the late 1970s to 59.2% now, but compared with the world’s advanced level There is still a big gap. Improving the level of agricultural science and technology is the national plan and basic requirement to ensure food self-sufficiency in our country, transforming agricultural production methods, using information and communication technology to transform traditional agricultural production and rural governance models, achieving precise poverty alleviation, effectively guaranteeing the payment of migrant workers’ wages, and contributing to the construction of modern agriculture. The system is of great significance.
Blockchain, as a distributed database technology with features such as inability to be tampered with, collective maintenance, and real-time reconciliation and traceability, has gradually penetrated into the fields of agriculture, rural areas, and farmers, and is used in the traceability of agricultural products, agricultural finance, and farmers’ precision. Subdivision links such as poverty alleviation have created more mature application cases. Blockchain is providing important technical support for the digitalization, branding, and modernization of my country’s “agriculture, rural areas and farmers”.
2. Application scenarios of blockchain in agriculture
1. Blockchain + agricultural production
In the process of agricultural modernization, agricultural production is constantly collecting massive amounts of data, and there is a huge demand for data interactive computing. There are still two major pain points in traditional agriculture. One is the serious asymmetry of information in each link of agricultural production, and the data is fragmented, making it difficult to collaborate. The second is the high cost of agricultural Internet of Things data storage, calculation, protection, operation and maintenance, and the overall platform deployment is not cost-effective, which cannot meet the current data interaction needs of agricultural production.
The “blockchain + Internet of Things + edge computing” solution can be used for intelligent interactive communication of agricultural Internet of Things devices. The application of edge computing has solved the problem of insufficient computing power of edge devices to a great extent, while the distributed accounting technology of blockchain solves the problem of untimely interaction between IoT devices, and the asymmetric encryption technology of blockchain enhances communication security and consensus mechanism Enhance data storage security and ensure the safety of agricultural production. The combination of “blockchain + Internet of Things + edge computing” will enable IoT devices to realize self-management and maintenance. Each agricultural IoT device has functions such as data collection, analysis and calculation, and communication, so as to realize the localization of agricultural production base data. Generated and processed nearby, eliminating the high maintenance cost centered on cloud control.
2. Blockchain + agricultural supply chain management
Agricultural supply chain management involves many subjects, long processes, and high supply chain management costs. The pain points of the traditional agricultural supply chain are that, first, the agricultural supply chain involves farmers, agricultural cooperatives, processors, distributors, retailers and other types of industrial entities, and the information is asymmetry among different links in the industrial chain. Second, the traditional agricultural supply chain has many subjects and long processes, and the transmission of logistics, capital flow, and information flow is not smooth and transparent.
Blockchain can be used to simplify the agricultural supply chain management process and improve overall transparency. Based on the characteristics of multi-party synchronous storage and non-tampering, the blockchain can link farmers, agricultural cooperatives, processors, distributors, retailers and other multi-industry entities, realize synchronous recording of supply chain data, real-time sharing of information, and solve the problem between different links in the industrial chain. Information asymmetry and other issues. Based on smart contracts, the blockchain integrates sensing and IoT technology, which can automatically trigger the execution of contract generation, trigger signing, and supervision of payment, greatly reducing the cost of industrial chain management.
3. Blockchain + agricultural product traceability
The quality and safety of agricultural products has always been a hot spot that the government attaches importance to and the society pays close attention to. The pain points of the traceability of traditional agricultural products mainly exist in three aspects. One is the lack of credibility of the existing traceability platform, which affects consumers’ trust in the quality of agricultural products. Second, the current information on production, sales, processing, and quality inspection in my country’s agricultural product industrial chain is still not transparent enough. Third, it is difficult to define the main responsibility of quality and safety. These pain points have caused the supply-side high-quality agricultural products to still face problems such as slow sales and low added value, which greatly restricts the rapid development of agriculture.
Blockchain can be used to create a traceability system for the quality and safety of the production, supply and marketing process of agricultural products. By storing the core information in the process of planting, processing, quality inspection, storage, transportation and sales on the chain, the blockchain can realize effective supervision and timely traceability of the entire link from production to consumption, thereby creating an intensive quality and safety control system . Once safety and quality problems occur, the regulatory agency can trace back to the relevant responsible parties based on the blockchain system. Not only that, based on the blockchain asymmetric public and private key verification technology, the anti-counterfeiting verification of brand agricultural products can be realized, thereby protecting the brand value.
4. Blockchain + agricultural finance
The central government and large financial institutions all regard agricultural finance as an important strategic direction, and there are huge market opportunities. However, traditional agricultural finance still has the following three pain points. First, the credit loan capacity of my country’s agricultural population and agricultural enterprises is relatively low, and neither land nor biological assets can be used as collateral. Second, there are far fewer online data in the area of “agriculture, rural areas and farmers” than cities, and credit evaluation and credit system construction are also more difficult than cities. Third, from the perspective of financial institutions, both the customer acquisition cost and risk control cost of rural finance are too high, making the development of rural finance slow.
Blockchain can be used to improve the liquidity of agricultural financial assets and reduce the financing costs of upstream and downstream enterprises in the agricultural supply chain. In the agricultural supply chain finance business, centering on core enterprises, a node-controllable way is established to cover the alliance chain of participants in agricultural supply chain trade financing, and the trade data of each node is linked to the chain. Enterprises with financing needs will provide proof of contracts, debts, etc. Chain registration and circulation of these assets in the alliance chain to achieve financing. In addition, agricultural business entities no longer rely on intermediary agencies such as banks and credit reporting companies to provide credit certificates when applying for loans. The lending agency can simply retrieve the corresponding information and data of the blockchain. In the agricultural insurance business, blockchain can simplify the agricultural insurance process and reduce the frequency of fraudulent insurance incidents. For example, relying on smart contracts, once an agricultural disaster is detected, the compensation process will be automatically initiated, which greatly improves the efficiency of compensation.
3. Application scenarios of blockchain in rural areas
1. Blockchain + rural governance
Rural governance is an important part of the national governance system and an important guarantee for the people to live and work in peace and order, and to ensure social stability and order. However, traditional village governance still faces many difficulties. First, the village rules and the people’s agreement are only advocating, not mandatory, and there are no clear rules of rewards and punishments, lack of scientific incentive mechanism protection, and mainly rely on “human feelings” and “face” to govern. Second, the main body of rural governance is ambiguous, and it is difficult for farmers as an important subject to directly participate in the governance process. Third, the rural credit system is weak and the governance system is imperfect. The essence of rural governance is the allocation of public resources in rural society, which needs to stimulate villagers’ sense of participation.
Blockchain can be used to rebuild the rural credit system, stimulate villagers’ sense of participation, and better allocate rural public resources. Relying on the alliance chain, the participation methods and feedback mechanisms of many subjects in the rural governance process can be clarified, and the integration of the Internet of Things, big data, artificial intelligence and other technologies can effectively record each participation of the villagers, and rely on these open and transparent credit data Provide corresponding incentives for villagers, scientifically evaluate each villager’s participation and contribution, thereby enhancing villagers’ “village ownership”, expanding the scope of the main body of village governance, and innovating and creating village governance rules. This kind of blockchain governance thinking model, with its characteristics of consensus, sharing and co-governance, stimulates the initiative of individuals, and at the same time strengthens the scientific evaluation of individuals’ contributions to the collective, and supports the continuous optimization of the distribution of rural public resources.
2. Blockchain + rural cultural tourism
The development of rural cultural tourism is an important measure to promote poverty alleviation in rural industries and improve rural governance. However, there are still many problems in traditional rural cultural tourism. First, the binding force of travel contracts is limited, and the safety of property during the journey cannot be effectively guaranteed. Second, there is less effective data information on rural cultural and tourism resources on the Internet, and the extreme asymmetry of information is likely to cause problems such as sky-high consumption, excessive slaughter of customers, and false comments on crude services. Third, there are many industrial entities involved in rural cultural tourism, including villagers, rural government departments, tourism companies, passenger transport companies, etc., and the data held by relevant entities cannot be effectively connected and shared. Rural cultural tourism urgently needs a new generation of information and communication technology to support the transformation.
Blockchain technology helps to optimize the consumption environment of rural cultural tourism and promote the high-quality and coordinated development of rural cultural tourism. The blockchain platform can store information related to the entire process of rural cultural tourism registration, payment, transaction, performance, complaints, and dispute resolution on the chain, and rely on smart contracts to automatically trigger the execution of the contract, so as to protect the interests of all parties from infringement. The accumulation of historical data on the chain such as performance data and comment data can strengthen the credibility of the credit indicators of all parties, fundamentally solve the problem of concealment and fraud in value exchange and transfer, and enhance the credit added value of rural cultural tourism resources. Blockchain will accelerate the construction of a public sharing mechanism for rural cultural and tourism data, and help create a good rural cultural and tourism consumption environment.
Fourth, the application scenarios of blockchain in the field of farmers
1. Blockchain + targeted poverty alleviation
In February 2021, General Secretary Xi Jinping solemnly declared at the National Poverty Alleviation Summary and Commendation Conference that my country’s poverty alleviation battle has won an all-round victory, the overall regional poverty has been resolved, and the arduous task of eliminating absolute poverty has been completed. However, the next step after the overall victory of the fight against poverty is to firmly hold on to the bottom line of preventing large-scale return to poverty, and the poverty alleviation work will continue for a long time. From the current point of view, there are still some problems in the poverty alleviation work. First, the information is not open and transparent, the authenticity of the data is not high, and the public trust is not enough; the second is the opaque use of poverty alleviation funds, and there are false reports and false claims, interception of private shares, misappropriation, and profligacy. Waste and other issues; the third is the large scale of poverty alleviation funds and low management efficiency. It is difficult to control the appropriation of funds, the time to the account, and the practical effects, which can easily cause the consequences of disjointing funds and high management costs.
The blockchain + big data solution can be used for the whole-process management of poverty alleviation funds, clarify the responsibility of each link, and make poverty alleviation more transparent. By establishing a consortium chain, relevant enterprises and government agencies can be included in the consortium chain, electronic application and approval operations can be realized through the system, and the banking system can be linked to automatically allocate funds, improve the efficiency of poverty alleviation funds, and carry out tracking management to improve the efficiency of poverty alleviation management , Simplify the management process of poverty alleviation work. Not only that, the approval process and flow of each fund are clearly recorded and traceable in the blockchain system, so that all parties can monitor the poverty alleviation work in real time, truly transparent and open, and prevent funds from being deprived of Misappropriation.
2. Blockchain + payment of farmers’ wages
Doing a good job in the payment of migrant workers’ wages and ensuring the rights and interests of migrant workers is a major political task. At present, there are still difficulties in ensuring the remuneration and rights of migrant workers. The construction unit usually requires the general contractor or subcontractor to advance part of the start-up capital for the settlement of the project. The so-called “rules” that only collect wages collectively have caused difficulties for migrant workers to receive wages in full and on time, for small micro-contractors to find money and pay wages, and for migrant workers to implement the real-name system of wages.
Blockchain can be used for penetrating payment of labor wages for migrant workers. The “blockchain + guarantee fund” model comprehensively applies the blockchain management platform and the builder’s salary guarantee fund. The platform will uniformly supervise all fund settlement management related to project construction. Through the transparent management of the guarantee fund, it can be clearly seen The specific flow of each salary. The labor wages are paid through, which realizes the transparent payment of builders’ wages. When the project participants fail to pay the builders’ wages on time as agreed, the blockchain smart contract will automatically trigger the payment mechanism, and the security funds will be automatically paid to the builders. In the wage card, the smart payment guarantee is realized under the condition of the builder’s insensitivity, so as to effectively solve the problem of wage arrears and difficulty in obtaining wages for migrant workers.
5. Suggestions for the development of blockchain applications in the field of “agriculture, rural areas and farmers” in my country
At present, the application of blockchain in the field of “agriculture, rural areas and farmers” mainly focuses on the traceability of agricultural products, agricultural supply chain and rural financing. The application of precision poverty alleviation and rural governance is also accelerating. However, despite the active innovation of blockchain technology and intensive policy support, it is undeniable that the application of blockchain industry is not mature enough, there is a large gap in professional talents, and the application in the field of “agriculture, rural areas and farmers” has not yet been fully popularized. Therefore, the future integration of blockchain and “agriculture, rural areas, and farmers” needs to be developed and strengthened in a targeted manner.
The first is to seize the major opportunities of “new infrastructure” and accelerate the construction of blockchain infrastructure in the field of “agriculture, rural areas and farmers”. In April 2020, the National Development and Reform Commission clarified the scope of new infrastructure for the first time. The new technology infrastructure based on blockchain is an important part of it. Together with 5G, big data centers, artificial intelligence, etc., it provides technical guarantee and support for industrial economic development. Means to realize the link of application scenarios. This shows that the new public service infrastructure based on blockchain will become a fair, reliable, intelligent operation, safe and reliable underlying architecture in the field of “agriculture, rural areas and farmers”. We should take advantage of “new infrastructure”, pay attention to rural groups, promote the application of blockchain in the field of “agriculture, rural areas and farmers”, incorporate basic and strategic major issues such as targeted poverty alleviation, and coordinate the implementation of urban and rural blockchains for digital villages. Actively plan the layout.
The second is to actively explore scientific and professional blockchain applications. The progress of in-depth integration is inseparable from the continuous and active exploration of applications. An open fault-tolerant mechanism should be established to encourage local governments to sort out the current problems and needs in the “three rural” areas, introduce well-known blockchain technology service providers, and jointly carry out innovative applications and explorations in the “three rural” areas of the blockchain. Improve the innovative application exploration tracking feedback mechanism, and carry out regular comparative analysis around the dimensions of cooperation mode, technical architecture, application scale, application subject, application effectiveness, etc., to summarize innovative application experience. Create a batch of innovative application demonstration models in the field of “agriculture, rural areas and farmers” of the blockchain, and promote them nationwide.
The third is to improve the special policies and supporting policies of the blockchain in the field of “agriculture, rural areas and farmers” to ensure the smooth implementation of blockchain application projects. Focusing on the key work content in the “agriculture, rural areas, and farmers”, with the goal of high-quality agricultural and rural development, strengthening the top-level design, issuing supporting and guiding policy documents, actively giving play to the guiding role of fiscal policies, increasing financial support, strengthening resource protection, Optimize resource allocation and implement a series of supporting policies such as encouraging enterprise innovation and attracting capital to land. Attach importance to the role of upstream and downstream synergy, establish a promotion team, increase publicity and promotion, and strengthen the support of major projects.
About the Author
Wang Qiang, deputy director of the Artificial Intelligence and Data Governance Center of the Institute of Industry and Planning, China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, is mainly engaged in research and consulting in the fields of blockchain, artificial intelligence, and big data.
Fan Kangkang is an engineer in the Big Data and Digital Economy Research Department of the Institute of Industry and Planning, China Academy of Information and Communications Technology. He is mainly engaged in research and consulting in related fields such as information consumption and blockchain.
Su Le is an engineer in the Big Data and Digital Economy Research Department of the Institute of Industry and Planning, China Academy of Information and Communications Technology. He is mainly engaged in research and consulting in related fields such as artificial intelligence and blockchain.
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