UNIDO’S Global Quality programme conducts feasibility study of Blockchain Technology for cocoa value chain

The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) Global Quality and Standards Project (GQSP) in Ghana, funded by The Swiss State Secretariat of Economic Affairs (SECO), piloted a methodology to assess the readiness of a value chain to adopt the blockchain technology in partnership with SIM (Supply Chain Information Management B.V.)

A fact-finding mission has been conducted to pilot the methodology developed in collaboration with SIM in the Ghanaian cocoa value chain and provide recommendations for adoption of the technology.

“Blockchain technology is aimed at securely storing and sharing information on transactions across a network of users, and can serve to improve proof of integrity along the value chain; including quality attributes, environmental and social compliance to standards. One of the biggest benefits is its shared nature, whereby key data transactions are validated in a given point of the supply chain and can be monitored at any point in time,” said Juan Pablo Davila, UNIDO Project Manager.

“Blockchain is able to provide real-time, accurate and complete interconnected data on provenance, quality, safety, transportation, certification and product ingredients from farm to end consumer,” Mr. Davila added.

UNIDO officials, experts on Blockchain and a European retailer integrated the mission. It included visits to the cocoa value chain stakeholders to map and understand their risks, key transactions and identify their readiness for adoption of the technology. The visited stakeholders included key actors in the value chain that participate in a transaction and generate validated data; these include farmers, primary producers, cooperatives, transporters, warehouses, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Licenced Buying Companies (LBCs), Quality Control Company (QCC) and the Cocoa Marketing Company (CMC), Cocoa Research Institute (CRIG) and the Cocoa Health and Extension Department (CHED).

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European retailers and chocolate producers in developed countries are interested to ensure the sustainable provenance of their ingredients, and making sure premiums given for sustainable-certified and high quality compliant cocoa reaches the right farmers, thus contributing to their living wage and incomes.

SIM has worked with over 30 European retailers and producers in making supply chains transparent, and collect and validate data they can use to continuously improve their sustainability impact where it is most needed. They joined UNIDO on this fact-finding mission:

“The aim of our Blockchain projects is to have a positive impact and focus on the first mile, the smallholder farmers, their communities and environment. During the fact-finding mission, all actors in the Ghanaian cocoa supply chain warmly welcomed us. With this mission and project, we hope to be of added value and enabled to build on existing initiatives; and to take the next step to empower cocoa farmers, democratise data, increase digital traceability, and meeting growing market demands on transparency and sustainability,” said Leontien Hasselman, CEO of SIM.

“The fact-finding mission is the first milestone for application of blockchain in the cocoa value chain in Ghana. It will lay down the foundation for the next steps of its implementation,” expressed Safoa Osei, GQSP Ghana Chief Technical Advisor.

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UNIDO has been providing technical assistance in Ghana with the support of SECO for more than 12 years. The Trade Capacity Building Project (TCB / 2007-2018) provided opportunities to enhance Ghana’s quality infrastructure systems and expand the export of Ghanaian products, including cocoa. The GQSP Ghana builds on results of the TCB project and continues to support strengthening the quality of cocoa, cashew and oil palm value chains.

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