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Thailand to use blockchain technology for production-to-export traceability of organic rice

Mon, 25 Nov 2019, 07:07 am UTC

Thailand’s Trade Policy and Strategy Office (TPSO) has revealed that it is initiating a project to use blockchain technology to monitor agricultural products, starting with organic rice.

The country is well-known as a producer of organic rice. In its announcement, the TPSO said that Thailand exported 16,500 tons of organic rice by 2018 and is expected to be able to produce 247,000 tons by 2021.

However, trade of organic rice faces a number of problems including quality and product reliability, which are key factors affecting the product’s demand. The TPSO aims to use blockchain technology for production-to-export traceability in an attempt to boost confidence among buyers, The Nation Thailand reported.

“We already talked with farmers and some 5,000 growers from Surin province will participate in this project,” TPSO’s director-general Pimchanok Vonkorpon said. “We expect that the project will start in the middle of the next year, and if successful, we will extend it to other agricultural products.”

The new system will allow tracing and verifying the entire process – right from cultivation (with cameras installed on rice fields) to the final packaging. It will also have a certification process that will check the department that serves as the inspector and is responsible for issuing the certificate. In addition, financial institutions acting as the payment intermediary will be responsible for providing information on the buyer and the country of export.

“This system will help instill confidence in Thai organic rice, reducing problems of buyer’s rejection, product adulteration, and licence subrogation in order to increase the bargaining power and add more value to the product, as well as creating opportunities for expanding export markets,” said Pimchanok. “The buyers can check the source of organic rice. If they have a problem such as finding that it is not organic rice, they will be able to reject it.”

The project will be launched once the TPSO receives the operating budget for fiscal 2020, the report said.

Various government departments, including the Customs Department, the Revenue Department and the Comptroller-General's Department, have been looking to adopt blockchain technology in the past couple of months. More recently, the Finance Ministry inked a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Krungthai Bank for three blockchain pilot projects – value-added tax (VAT) refund service for foreign tourists, scripless savings bond issuance and letters of credit (LC) for electronic procurement.

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