Farmer Connect and IBM have created a new app for consumers called “Thank My Farmer,” which gives coffee drinkers immediate access to information about the origin of their cup of coffee. The app also enables users to support farmers and sustainability projects in coffee communities.

Unveiled this week at CES in Las Vegas, the Farmer Connect platform uses IBM Blockchain to track the different stops coffee makes on its journey from farmer to consumer, via coops, exporters, shippers, importers, roasters, distributors, and retailers.

Currently, information is fragmented across the coffee supply chain because each participant in this complex system only tracks their small segment of the journey, and each uses its own system to log data.

The app, which will be released at the beginning of 2020, solves this problem by bringing parties together using blockchain technology to simplify the exchange and tracking of information and payments.

“Thank My Farmer” app

The technology creates a permanent digitised chain of transactions that cannot be altered. Each network participant has an exact copy of the data, and additions to the blockchain are shared throughout the network based on each participant’s level of permission.

Inside the app the information is presented to consumers on an interactive map, taking them on the bean’s origin journey. The “Thank My Farmer” app also presents sustainability projects in coffee communities and an opportunity for consumers to support them.

“The aim is humanising each coffee drinker’s relationship with their daily cup,” said David Behrends, Founder and President of Farmer Connect.

“Consumers now can play an active role in sustainability governance by supporting coffee farmers in developing nations. Through the blockchain and this consumer app, we’re creating a virtuous cycle.”

Initially, North American customers will be able to use the app to track coffee from premium brand 1850 by scanning a QR code, while European consumers will be able to access the “Thank My Farmer” app through a new single-origin brand, Beyers 1769, roasted at Beyers Koffie.

The app was developed with leading companies across the global coffee supply chain including, The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC), ITOCHU Corporation, Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE), The J.M. Smucker Company, Rabobank, RGC Coffee, Volcafe, Sucafina and Yara International.

Large and small companies will be invited to join the app throughout 2020.

Farmer Connect is currently incorporating self-sovereign identity, a new form of digital identity built on distributed ledger technology, in collaboration with the Sovrin Foundation. This closes the loop on a circular economy that will enhance smallholder livelihoods while delivering transparency and a better experience for the consumer.

The project with Farmer Connect is another example of IBM’s work extending blockchain technology adoption across many industries and use cases. For example, IBM Food Trust uses blockchain to improve reliability, efficiency and sustainability for the food industry.

“This project is another example of how blockchain technology can enable a channel for real change,” said Raj Rao, General Manager, IBM Food Trust. “Blockchain is more than aspirational business tech, it is used today to transform how people can build trust in the goods they consume. For business, it can drive greater transparency and efficiency.”

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