Mangoes on the blockchain? Thanks to Adelaide-based startup T-Provenance it’s more likely than you think


Andrew Grant and Jackson Virgo. Source: Supplied

If you’ve ever wanted to bite into a sweet, cold, Australian mango while simultaneously being able to know that mango’s exact path from farm to table, blockchain startup T-Provenance has you covered.

Founded in Adelaide in 2016 and born out of the agtech betaworks Availer, T-Provenance looks to increase efficiency and trust in agriculture supply chains via the use of blockchain technology, starting with the supply chains for one of Australia’s most revered fruits: the humble mango.

The startup has locked in a partnership with some of the largest producers of Kensington Pride mangoes in Australia, Growcom and Manbullo Limited, and secured $500,000 worth of capital.

That capital is comprised of a $300,000 grant from the CRC for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA), as well as funding from the CSIRO’s Data61 Kick-Start initiative and Avalier.

This funding will allow T-Provenance to establish its Ethereum-based private blockchain for use with Manbullo’s supply chains, which the startup’s chief technology officer Jackson Virgo tells StartupSmart will help get every participant of the supply chain “on even footing”.

“It governs how the data is shared, and the ownership of the data is clearly defined and locked into the blockchain, with no questions about who can use it or the objectivity of the data. It’s as close as possible to what we call ‘trustless’ in the blockchain space,” says Virgo, who works on T-Provenance alongside Avalier co-founder Andrew Grant.

“We’re going to cover the transaction all the way from the farmer to the retailer, and also link in data directly from IoT [Internet of Things] sensors onboard the trucks, which track things like temperature and time.”

Ironing out the bad fruit

This data, stored in an immutable ledger on the blockchain, will aid retailers with things like quality control, with Virgo saying mangoes are one of the fruits where time and temperature most highly correlates to eating quality.

He says the T-Provenance system will help show the pallets at the end of the journey that may be in most need of further quality checking, cutting down on time and risk for retailers and reducing unusable fruit.

“In this case, the blockchain serves the purpose of preapproving those quality checks by bringing in data objectively from the IoT sensors. Somewhere like Coles can then validate the mangoes have been in an acceptable temperature, and they don’t need to spend such a long time doing quality checks,” he says.

This efficiency boost, along with a reduction in bad fruit, is estimated to add a further $14 million in value to farm gate production, according to the CRCNA, and the journey doesn’t stop at mangoes. The team believes the technology can be applied to the broader agriculture industry to improve efficiencies across the board, with benefits that roll onto the consumers.

While the startup is focused on accountability and transparency for the producing and retailing side of the supply chain, Virgo says the plan is to eventually provide consumers with access to the data also.

In a statement, Manbullo Limited chief executive Marie Piccone said the technology has the potential to keep Australia at the “cutting edge” of agricultural technology.

“T-Provenance has the potential to revolutionise the mango supply chain and deliver benefits for growers. By using the blockchain to provide transparency from the farmer to the consumer, we can truly keep Australia at the cutting edge of agricultural technology. We are excited to be involved in pioneering this unique approach,” she said.

ICO out of the question, for now

Virgo says the $500,000 in funding is a huge mark of validation for the startup, especially considering the “noise” around the consumer side of blockchain when it comes to things like cryptocurrencies.

While many blockchain projects would see this as an opportunity to raise millions through an initial coin offering (ICO), Virgo says T-Provenance isn’t considering that for the moment; he views the platform as a real world use case for blockchain tech without the “crypto-economics” factor.

“We’re not concerned about the ‘sexy’ side of blockchain such as ICOs. While it can be useful for convening the network and getting buyers to raise capital, T-Provenance is not targeted at the futuristic crypto economic space,” he says.

“I also think the ICO market has gotten to the point where it’s not a quick fix for capital raising like it was initially.

“There’s very few commercial uses of blockchain in place now where you can compare the value of the cost of solution to the benefit to the company’s bottom line. That’s where we’re shooting for.”

NOW READ: Agtech startup BlockGrain gunning to receive $1 million from NEM blockchain fund


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