A blockchain-based marketplace for farmers and consumers based on concept of ‘cooperative contractual farming’ promises to revolutionise the agricultural sector in India.

Called AgroChain, the marketplace has been developed by the student team of Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management-Kerala (IIITM-K) based here, and mentored by faculty member Asharaf S.

AgroChain won the NITI Aayog prize at the international blockchain hackathon organised recently at IIT-Delhi by NITI Aayog and Proffer, a Harvard-based blockchain startup.

Speaking to BusinessLine , Asharaf said that AgroChain could likely get dovetailed with the IndiaChain initiative, the Centre’s full-fledged blockchain infrastructure project.

IndiaChain in turn promises to revolutionise the way subsidies are distributed to begin with, for instance in the farm sector, and increase trust in areas such as organic food.

Elaborating, Asharaf said AgroChain seeks to connect capital lying unproductive, parcels of land lying fallow, and individuals who are ready to work on farms, including cooperatives.

“The beauty is that you can connect all these entities through a supply chain funding mechanism. It ensures optimal utilisation of land sources and also generates jobs in large numbers.”

Farmers can list potential crops and the expected yield on a distributed public ledger. Consumers can view details and check the farmer’s credibility based on previous cultivation and supply.

Transparent operations Even the government can come in and say that there is a subsidy available for a prticular crop. This adds to the credibility of farmers. The data lying on the public ledger makes everything transparent.

As an IT employee based here, one can order work on a parcel of idle land in far-away Telangana by buying 500 units from a digital repository represented by AgroChain.

“Here, citizens are enabled to fund and take up farming without going for credit from banks or government agencies. That’s the whole idea that we wanted to put forward.”

The system can also facilitate an agreement between the farmer and the consumer. Thus, it will help the consumer fund individual crops or an entire field.

He can acquire the yield from the farm or a percentage profit of its market value. There will be a rating mechanism to build the credibility of the farmer and the consumer, based on experiences documented on marketplace.

“We hope that AgroChain could become Kerala’s contribution to Indiachain,” said Asharaf.