TX – Tomorrow Explored : Ben Sheppard’s Take (Pt.2)

Anil Prabha

July 17, 2020

Asia Blockchain Review recently sat down with Ben Sheppard, Managing Director of Tomorrow Explored, TX. This is the second part of the interview. The company is an advisory and software development company specializing in the application of blockchain technology and data ecosystems.

Looking at the Food Outlook report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, it predicts that seafood will see lasting impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic. What are your thoughts? Obviously supply chain is the main issue here, what are some lessons from a technology perspective that we can look at?

It’s an interesting situation for us at TX.  Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been concerns that certain fish stocks, such as Yellow-fin tuna have been on the decline and that corrective action is needed urgently to fix the situation and give the stocks time to replenish. I think the fish stocks just got the corrective action they needed!

A limited downturn in demand can hopefully have a positive impact on our seafood resources. But of course there are negative effects, particularly on fisherfolk in developing countries where government support is not readily available.  The livelihoods of these people will be in a critical state if the demand for seafood doesn’t return to some level of normality in an acceptable time frame.

In terms of what we can learn from a technical standpoint, one thing that this situation is highlighting is the need for processes that are not dependent on meeting people face-to-face. Clearly this is an angle that will have to be taken into account when designing solutions from a technical perspective. We see decentralized systems as a big component for new class technical solutions that make this possible.

Coming to the TX’s Tracey solution, tell us more about this. The solution that is happening with WWF and UnionBank of the Philippines surely merits some exploration. Do elaborate on this synergistic initiative.

The blockchain-enabled Tracey application incentivizes fisherfolk to provide verified seafood catch and trade data for improved fisheries management and supply chain traceability.

The pilot is taking place at two Fisheries Improvement Project sites (FIPS) run by WWF in the areas of Bicol and Mindoro in the Philippines.  UnionBank will utilize the data collected for ascertaining creditworthiness of un-banked fisherfolk with the aim of offering micro-finance.

What makes this project really exciting is that it delivers financial inclusion, sustainability and improved livelihoods through the capture and accessibility of seafood traceability and trade data.  In the Philippines, two out of five fisherfolk live below the poverty line.

These are primarily the artisanal fisherfolk. We are able to help bank these un-banked individuals by connecting them to institutional finance through the facilitation of trading data that can demonstrate creditworthiness for micro-finance.

Overfishing is a problem with stocks of yellow-fin tuna on the decline.  The data collected by Tracey can be used by the government to provide more accurate Maximum Sustainable Yield Limits (MSYs) on yellow-fin tuna catch, which can help drive more sustainable fishing practices.

Lastly, the data collected will also complete the story of a tuna from bait to plate. Many existing traceability solutions do not cover vessel monitoring and catch effort that happens in the first mile of activity.  Tracey does exactly this and is interoperable with other traceability solutions.

All this is achieved by engineering a Data Economy. We are already getting requests to replicate Tracey in other micro-SME markets, such as cattle, crops and crustaceans.

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About the author
Anil Prabha

Editor In Chief

Anil started his career in journalism all the way back in 2003. After traversing the sphere of editorial, corporate communications and advertising, he has now come full circle and is back in the world of journalism. He believes in the power of the written word, and its ability to enthrall, delight and inform the reader.

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