KATHRIN HILLE: It’s harvest time in Chihshang, in eastern Taiwan. Cut off by high mountains from the industrialised west of the island, this valley is known as Taiwan’s back garden. Local farmers work small plots of land, often by hand. But hidden from view, change is underway.
[? Alting, ?] a startup from Taipei, is trying to give local rice farmers a boost by linking their harvest to the web, using the internet of things, and recording all the information with blockchain technology. These sensors measure weather patterns and chemical changes in the soil, and can also allow consumers to watch, in real time, how their rice is grown. [? Alting ?] placed a set of sensors in one of Wei Jui-ting’s fields in July.
Mr Wei is shifting his father’s rice fields to organic farming. He hopes full transparency will give him an advantage.
Blockchain is distributed digital ledger that records and stores all the information. It is both open and secure. And linking Jui-ting’s fields to the internet could achieve much more.
When farmers bring their rice to the local mill, the grain is hulled, dried, and tested for moisture, protein content, and potential pesticide residues. The increasingly unpredictable climate has a big impact on these elements.
Chen Cheng-hung, who runs the mill, believes that the data collected from farmer’s fields will help.
Mr Chen says that tiny sensors will change the way farmers work.
Once that is achieved, the project’s backers believe wild swings in agricultural commodity prices, created by natural disasters, will be consigned to history.
A stable price, despite an unstable climate. A benefit to consumers and farmers alike.
[SOUNDS OF RUNNING WATER]