The blockchain plans to be used on other commodities such as tea and cocoa. © PeopleImages/Getty Images
The blockchain plans to be used on other commodities such as tea and cocoa. © PeopleImages/Getty Images

Blockchain app connects coffee drinkers with farmers

7 January 2020

Coffee companies have worked with a tech start-up to develop an app that allows consumers to connect with coffee farmers.

A group of firms including Beyers Koffie, Jacobs Douwe Egberts and The JM Smucker Company partnered with Farmer Connect to create the app, which enables consumers to trace the origin and type of their coffee. 

The mobile app, called Thank My Farmer, uses a blockchain platform developed by IBM and it aims to increase “traceability, efficiency and fairness” in the global coffee supply chain.

Farmer Connect's platform has been tested with coffee from Colombia and Rwanda, from production to delivery, but it could work for other small farmholders in commodities such as tea and cocoa.

The app, set to launch early in 2020, includes an interactive map that visualises the supply chain. It shows sustainability projects in coffee communities that consumers can help fund. 

David Behrends, founder and president of Farmer Connect, said: “The aim is humanising each coffee drinker's relationship with their daily cup. 

“Consumers now can play an active role in sustainability governance by supporting coffee farmers in developing nations. Through the blockchain and this consumer app, we're creating a virtuous cycle.”

The blockchain platform creates a secure “digitised chain of transactions” including data and payments from participants across the coffee supply chain that can’t be altered.

Coffee farmers, manufacturers, traders and distributors were involved in the project, including Volcafe, Sucafina, Yara International and The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation. 

Raj Rao, general manager at IBM Food Trust, said: “Blockchain is more than aspirational business tech, it is used today to transform how people can build trust in the goods they consume. For business, it can drive greater transparency and efficiency.”

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