Blockchain tool aims to cut risk in beef supply chain

24 June 2021

A blockchain tool aims to help Zimbabwean farmers prove the origin and health records of cattle and restart exports to lucrative European and Middle Eastern markets.

The tool, developed by social enterprise E-Livestock Global and based on Mastercard’s Provenance platform, aims to reduce risks to buyers by increasing traceability in the cattle supply chain.

E-Livestock Global said it hoped the platform would lead to new hope in Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector after an outbreak of tick-borne disease in 2018 led to the death of 50,000 cattle. Zimbabwe had no traceability system to prove the health of its livestock and exports to Europe and the Middle East were blocked.

Now farmers or dipping officers can tag each head of cattle with a unique, ultra-high frequency tag and register it and its owner with the platform. This means each time an animal gets dipped, vaccinated or receives medical treatment, the event is recorded.

This data is stored on a blockchain system that maintains a secure and tamper-proof trail of each animal’s history, meaning the entire supply chain can potentially access trusted, transparent and verifiable data.

“For farmers, it provides an irrefutable record that proves ownership, supports sales and exports, as well as allows them to obtain a loan, using their cattle as collateral. For buyers, it enables them to efficiently manage their operations and guarantee product quality to their customers,” said E-Livestock Global.

“Mastercard’s Provenance solution can safely and securely track the authenticity of the cattle’s journey at every stage, from birth to sale. Tracking the medical history of cattle on a tamper-proof blockchain ledger will foster renewed trust in Zimbabwean cattle farming and re-establish Zimbabwe’s credibility as an international beef exporter.”

In the 1990s Zimbabwe was one of Africa’s major beef exporters. Its cattle herd was more than $1.4m strong and brought in around $50m each year in revenue, accounting for about 80% of income in many of the country’s provinces.

In recent years the government has invested to restart the industry and aims to attract thousands of rural farmers rather than the few white farmers who previously dominated the industry, according to a UN report.

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