In 2017, Fairfood became one of the first parties worldwide to sell a food product that had been logged on blockchain from tree to plate: 1,000 Indonesian coconuts. A pilot project to encourage large coconut players to explore their own chains.
Paying coconut farmers a fair price seems like a simple task, but the production chain of coconut is long and complex. Coconuts come from hard-to-reach areas, and as a result there is a great deal of brokering involved. In collaboration with Provenance we have made this chain transparent and have traced 1,000 honest coconuts all the way to the Netherlands. Those coconuts had no quality marks. That wasn’t necessary. We mapped out every step in detail—from tree to plate—and recorded it on the blockchain. Check it out here. Consumers were able to scan a QR code placed on the coconuts, which led them to a page where they could see exactly who had grown their coconut and what exactly had been paid to each actor along the chain. This process is completely unique, because even within regular sales processes and extensive research it is impossible to find out what a coconut farmer is paid for his products.
55 small-scale coconut farmers were involved in this project and they were able to personally confirm that they were paid the agreed upon price for their coconuts. The confirmation process is verified with fingerprints and anonymous verification through SMS. Blockchain also made visible the fact that a number of farmers indicated that they had not received the agreed upon price, and all actors along the chain could view this information. Fairfood was then able to act on this information and ensure that the correct payment was made.
Worldwide there are about 16 million small-scale coconut farmers. Many of these farmers do not earn enough to support their families and in many cases are living below the poverty line. In the Philippines, for example, where 84% of the coconuts imported to the Netherlands come from, about 56% of small-scale coconut farmers live in poverty. 40% of Pilipino coconut industry employees live in poverty. Farmers with little land often have no choice but to become day laborers—often climbers—on coconut plantations of other, larger farmers. Everyday they climb about 30 trees without any protection. If they fall from a tree and cannot work for a while, they often have no income. That can be disastrous for both the farmer and his or her family.
This pilot project was part of our coconut campaign. You can read more about this campaign here.