We believe blockchain technology will forever change the way non-profit organizations create value for beneficiaries and project stakeholders.
Heifer International’s long history of success has depended greatly upon donor trust and our ability to deliver impact through our innovative programming. The idea of trust is now being redefined by new technologies like distributed systems. Our vision is to build a blockchain network for agricultural development where all farmers can have access to working capital, technology, technical assistance, and expanding markets.
Our Blockchain Initiatives Team is constantly discovering new opportunities to utilize blockchain technology to revolutionize international sustainable development. We are focused on partnering with governments, private organizations, and non-profit coalitions to create lasting change. We have also accepted donations via Bitcoin and a variety of other digital currencies since 2016.
We are currently planning, designing, or piloting the following list of blockchain-based projects. We intend to scale these solutions to our programming locations around the world after further research, testing, and refinement. The core values of security, community, transparency, and sustainability are embedded in all our blockchain projects. Ultimately, each project is a sequential building block on the path towards transforming Heifer International into a decentralized autonomous organization.
Asset Registration and Tracking
Food Supply Chain Tracking
Food traceability and authentication are critical to improving food security and fair trade. Sourcing food contamination, production costs, and certified quality can be difficult in today’s food supply chain. Heifer is utilizing blockchain technology across global supply chains with a variety of partners. Some of our projects are:
Heifer USA: Since 2017, the GrassRoots cooperative, in collaboration with Heifer USA in the state of Arkansas, has been using blockchain technology through Provenance. From that project, we learned that blockchain is a great opportunity to create visibility to small farmers and offer a new level of transparency to consumers. We have seen that GrassRoots has increased brand recognition and reputation.
Heifer Honduras, Project Leverage Success: In 2019, Heifer Honduras began working with IBM to provide coffee farmers in the COPRANIL cooperative with IBM Food Trust technology. The platform enables farmers and buyers to track coffee beans from the farm through to sale, allowing traceability along the supply chain and providing farmers with a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Heifer Honduras, Chocolate4All: In 2020, Heifer Honduras expanded the initiative to provide cacao farmers in the APROSACAO and APROBIL cooperatives in Olancho, Honduras with IBM Food Trust, sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations for Development (UNDP). Food Trust traces the cocoa beans in pulp, prior to fermentation, through to the sale of the dried beans to Chocolate Halba, the Chocolate4All buyer. It also allowed the traceability files to be transferred to the platform that were previously kept in Excel spreadsheets – a requirement from the company when purchasing ‘A’ quality cocoa.
At Heifer International, we believe the future of the food supply chain is the use of:
- Artificial intelligence and robotics integration
- Predictive analysis
- Management of sustainability and residence risks. (ESG factors for sustainability)
- Transparency with blockchain technology.
Land Title Initiative
Land registration and ownership in developing countries are crucial to alleviating hunger and poverty. Farmland and property can make up to 75% of a nation’s wealth yet 75% of the world’s population cannot prove they own the land on which they live or work. Blockchain technology offers a more reliable, cost-effective, and efficient land registry solution. Heifer is partnering with Tetra Tech and others to develop a sustainable business model that helps small-holder farmers obtain funds for land acquisition while participating in agroecological training programs. We are planning to pilot the project in Honduras and Malawi.
Donor Experience and Project Scaling
We want to trace donations that support sustainable agriculture for everyone. Our Donation Tracker gives both donors and the communities we work with a new level of transparency and accountability. This partnership with Copied Code and the University of Arkansas will support more intentional efforts to track funds that go towards Heifer International field projects.
In November 2020, we partnered with the BitGive Foundation to raise cryptocurrency funds for the Heifer USA Equipment Loan Program through the GiveTrack crowdfunding platform. We exceeded our funding goal, raising over $10,000 and purchasing equipment that is being loaned out to small farmers across the South. The walk-behind tractor, caterpillar tunnels, and silage tarps are transforming their operations and increasing production capacity. We purchased the equipment from two Arkansas-based vendors who now accept cryptocurrency through the BitPay platform. Learn more about the project here: Transformative Tools for Small Farmers
Over 1.7 billion of the world's citizens are unbanked and thus excluded from access to the modern financial economy. If affordable financial products and services like checking/savings accounts, mobile payments, credit cards, and insurance are delivered responsibly, it can help individuals and businesses survive during crises and achieve profitable growth. Heifer wants to provide training and access to financial tools such as micro-lending, micro-insurance, and financial assets using blockchain-based applications.
Today, more and more people around the world have access to mobile phones and the internet. We believe this creates an opportunity for a financial system that better serves the needs of the farmers we work alongside. We are always looking for opportunities to increase access to finance for farmers, and have joined the Diem (previously Libra) Association to further this effort. The Diem Association is an independent member organization developing a blockchain-based payment system that will support financial inclusion, competition, and responsible financial services innovation. Diem’s mission is to enable a simple global payment system and financial infrastructure that empowers billions of people around the globe.
Heifer believes the Diem project has the potential to decrease costs, increase accessibility and create a more connected and equitable global financial system.
Heifer’s work with DAOs enables democratized access to software solutions and meritocratic governance functionalities which will unite and scale thousands of disorganized and geographically distributed smallholder farmers, thereby increasing their purchasing power, ability to modernize operations, and access financial inclusion through digital reputation.
A DAO represents a series of smart contracts which enables people to coordinate and transfer value securely over the internet based on an agreed-upon set of rules. Heifer’s work with DAOs represents the first deployment of a federated organizational model for smallholder farmers to access contextually relevant technical services, affordable software solutions, and financial support programs via cryptocurrency; and the ability to manage the governance of these funds collectively via blockchain and smart contracts.
To learn more about Heifer’s work with DAO’s or become a technology partner, contact us at email@example.com
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