Digitalisation triggers fundamentally new relationships in the food chain. Amongst the most promising new roles is the typical smallholder's position in low income countries towards their cooperatives and their clients (like coffee and cocoa processors and retailers buying pineapples and mangoes) in high income countries.

Block chain and crypto currencies enable tracing payments directly from buyers to their first suppliers, small holder farmers instead of their cooperatives. The new digital technologies will unleash a new wave of emancipation of small entrepreneurship and democratisation of coops in low income countries.

What will the future of the traditional poor small holder look like? What are the risks? How can they be managed? What will digitisation of the food chain mean for the future of fair trade?

Join these speakers

AgriFoodNetworks’ writer Babatunde Olarewaju is a Nigerian food expert and agronomist. Olarewaju has over 6 years’ experience working on various projects in the field of amongst others community driven development and consulting, gender equity, farm assessment, and youth capacity building and development. He was a Licensed GlobalG.A.P. Farm Assurer, certified quality management system (QMS), and GlobalG.A.P. Risk Assessment on Social Practice (GRASP). Furthermore, Olarewaju is a trained ISO 22000 Lead Auditor (Food safety Management system) and currently work as a Lead Strategist with FutuX Agri-consult Ltd.

Jeroen Douglas is executive director of Solidaridad, an international network organization that campaigns for a world in which everything is made and bought in solidarity with people, the environment, and future generations. In his role as general manager, it is his duty to oversee eight regional centres of Solidaridad across five continents. With a proven track record in structuring public-private partnerships, and over 25 years of dedicated international development experience, Douglas is well positioned to help farmers and producers with solid partners to invest in solutions that lead to inclusive and sustainable production and trade.

Prof. Dick Epema is a full Professor (Chair) in Distributed Systems of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) of Delft University of Technology, director of the EEMCS Faculty Graduate School, and director of the Delft Blockchain Lab. His research areas are distributed data processing, scheduling in distributed computing systems, and cooperative systems.

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1. Digitisation will disrupt the food system as we know it

In the opening chat of the series, moderator Tiffany Tsui chats with panelists Paul Buisman (Moba, egg packing machines), Kristian Möller (GlobalG.A.P.), Hans de Gier (SyncForce, data integration), and Dick Veerman (Foodlog) to discuss the challenges ahead in the world of digital food.

2. Bye Manpower, Hello Machines and Value

In the absence of a global authority that is aware of the powers unleashed by the digitisation of food, what 'no-body' can guard the interests of the global community?
Hans de Gier (SyncForce) explains - during the second chat - the Consumer Goods Forum's Data Ports project. The project's goal is to make the myriad of product standards interoperable by a common basic taxonomy and connecting simple identifiers. The good news: it is fully feasible, as Hans explains in great technical detail.

3. The True Code - a free global digital Passport for every Farmer and Facility

Chat 3: in the near future, data will travel with products. Retailers and brands need fast, cheap, and reliable data. There are several platforms (blockchains, data lakes, ERP systems) that already contain supplier and product related-data. These platforms, however, are not interconnected. Data exchange is limited and complicated. Interconnectivity and the easy exchange of data cannot do without a reliable, yet simple identification of every individual company that has a role in the supply chain. This can be done by using a unique electronic passport connected to every individual facility that is an actor in the chain.

4. Blooming Africa - the transfer of practical know how, organising farmers, the AfCFTA free trade area and creating value with transparency

Tiffany Tsui discusses - during the fourth chat - with hands on expert Dutch strawberry grower and advisor Jan Robben, TRUE Code-developer Marjan de Bock-Smit, Victoria Madedor (African Farmers Stories), and Dr Ikechi Agbugba (Rivers State University, Nigeria) how recent border closures on the one hand and new trade opportunities on the other impact agriculture in Africa.

At 1:08:00 min. they were spontaneously joined by Memory Nyakwima Chakwita from Zimbabwe who showed the potential strawberry fields in which she would like to apply all that was discussed. It was a special moment in the informal part of the discussion, showing the potential of this way of connecting people, expertise and ideas.

5. How to unlock Africa’s agricultural potential?

In the fifth chat of the Digital Food series, Tiffany Tsui asked her panel of African experts about challenges to organize trust, capital and infrastructure for African smallholder entrepreneurs. Victoria Madedor (African Farmers Stories), Babatunde Olarewaju (Futux Agri Consult, Lagos, Nigeria), and Dr Ikechi Agbugba (Rivers State University, Nigeria) discussed the overcoming challenges to trade and export of crops. Marjan de Bock-Smit (founder ImpactBuying, former CEO SIM Supply) responds.

6. Carbon Credits: Discovering the Self-Financing Potential of African Farmers

Carbon emissions are a growing concern for big companies. The digitisation of food will make their efforts - or lack of them - transparant to the consumer. Investors like BlackRock prefer the big brands to take responsibility. That's why carbon credits are coming of age in the trade of doing ethical business. Africa and its farmers will probably profit the most from carbon credits as can help them build on their own capital. Are carbon credits indeed the holy grail?

7. Building Natural Capital: Metrics & Transparant Monitoring

Moderator Tiffany Tsui discussed with Anke Hamminga, Sustainability lead EU at Cargill how her company is working on a new methodology to clarify contradictory choices modern consumers and their suppliers make with the intention of doing the right thing. Cargill intends to stay neutral but wants to raise awareness amongst their clients and consumer about the consequences of so-called sustainable choices serving nature and opposing climate change.

The first Digital Food conference in it's pre-covid physical guise in Amsterdam, 2019.