DAD2022 - 02 No Sector Left Behind: Ensuring Digital Resiliency in Canada’s Supply Chain

DAD2022 - 02 No Sector Left Behind: Ensuring Digital Resiliency in Canada’s Supply Chain

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When Covid 19 shut down the world in 2020, we found ourselves in a global crisis of unprecedented reach affecting people all around the world. In addition to the strain on our already challenged healthcare system here in Canada, businesses across the board were impacted. It goes without saying. The global supply chain took a massive hit and we were all forced to do business differently.

Many of us were forced to shop online, or in my husband's case, went a tad overboard and found just about everything you'd want online. It's all in our Facebook, by the way, cash transactions spelled by the wayside as we elect into the digital world. In the nearly three years since the pandemic began, that digital demand has accelerated, and to say and to stay competitive, we need to ensure data is secure for business. Governments and consumers.

As Franca said, this session is called No Sector Left Behind, ensuring Digital Resiliency in Canada's Supply Chains is that topic. I'm going to introduce our panelists. They will give a little bit of introductory remarks and then we'll go on to a discussion.

First, I'd like to introduce Vidya ShankarNarayan. She is the CIO and Assistant Deputy Minister Information Systems branch at Agriculture and Agri Food. Next to her is Erik Valiquette. He is the co-founder and president of the Canadian Blockchain Supply Chain Association.

For their full bios, please visit internet And now I'd like to ask Vidya to begin with her opening remarks. Thank you so much Janet, and good morning everyone. So really happy to be here and I think this is my first speaking event in person since the pandemic started. So I'm really thankful to Franca for the invitation. Today's session when it comes to the supply chain, I know that my focus is really going to be coming from an agriculture agri food perspective, and we just heard from our opening remarks on Covid 19 being a stress test to the network.

It was an extreme level of stress test when it came to food safety, food security, and food supply chain, including where there is fraud, including where there is trade. So I would say that just in my opening remarks that I'm very excited to be speaking with Erik as well as Janet here is because as we delve deeper this morning, I'd like to start peeling some of those layers of global trade supply chains and leveraging technology. Thank you. Good morning. I'm Erik Valiquette. I am the President of the Canadian Blockchain Supply Chain Association.

Says it all. We're an industry association that helps the supply chain industry understand and adopt blockchain technology, not just blockchain technology, emerging technologies in general. Our industry has unfortunately been historically very slow to to get onboard new technologies.

So we're here to. Both the video and Janet mentioned the pandemic and the disruptions brought on by that pandemic on our supply chains. But I'll throw something out there that proves what what what we're going to be, or is going to elaborate on what we're going to speak on later.

Disruptions in supply chain have been around for a long. Proven again by my haircuts and the gray hair that that's below here. I've been in the industry for about 30 years. So disruptions to our supply chains I've heard it all.

Yes. The media, yes, the general public has been made aware of these supply chains. Supply chains are in our vocabularies a bit more. Those words are in our vocabulary a bit more, but it's been going on for a long time. No we had pandemics, we have war we have volcanoes, we have floods in bc last year we have port strikes. We have rail strikes, we have trucker strikes.

That's all been happening, but a disruption that's been going on even longer than that is bad data. And that's what we're going to be talking about today is how do we make our information in our supply chain more? Awesome. Thank you Eric. And I think to kick it off, let's do an explanation of what exactly is blockchain technology.

I think that's my favorite question because it's the most misunderstood question. Who thinks that blockchain is about cryptocurrencies? Who knows about cryptocurrencies? Everybody knows, come on, raise your hand. Everybody knows cryptocurrencies.

Thank you very much. So blockchain technology is not about crypto. It's not about bitcoin.

It's not about the monkey and fts that we see in the news, right? It's not about that. Blockchain technology is a beautiful, technology's been around for decades. We also call it distributed ledger technology, and I. Speaks to what the power of this technology is more about. It is a digital ledger. So when we think about ledgers, we think most of the time about our bank statements, right? Money coming in, money going out.

Hopefully there's more in than going out, but it is a ledger, it's a record of transactions, and that is what blockchain is. It's a record of transactions. There is some crypto, not crypto. Currencies, but cryptography behind it, we have to be careful. So it's a very robust and secure our technology.

But it permits us to do some beautiful things, share information between trading partners in a better, more efficient way. It is digital so we're not relying on paper documents to manage. Our supply chains and supply chains today are still very paper. So we need to move onto digital. So when you think of blockchain, just think a digital ledger and hopefully that's you'll keep it at that. And nevermind the monkeys.

Vidya. Let's set the stage about Canada's role in agriculture and the ag food sector. How much do we export and how important is that sector to our economy and to jobs? . Thank you, Janet. And actually it's really well placed because Erik just mentioned some key words that I'm going to actually pick up on is so little bit on the number side is, so 11% of our GDP as a country is in agriculture and food. That's pretty big. For a country of population of, I would say roughly 38 million. That 11% is in the agriculture and agri food.

Primary is primary agriculture as well as in the food, and we are in the top five exporters in the world of agriculture and food products. So literally, we are in the top five to feed the world. I said I'm going to be coming to the trade as well as a supply chain in a couple of seconds.

Is the reason this becomes more and more important is what we are looking at is by 2050, if the current trend continues, the population of the world would be 9.7 billion. We are already struggling to feed the existing population where food is extremely challenging in many parts of the world. The population is only increasing in 2050, is not that far away. Now I'm going to mention a couple of things that Erik just spoke about.

It's connecting to where the agriculture sector and supply chains become interesting and important. I agree with Erik. Supply chain resiliency and challenges have been around for decades now. In the last few years, what we've seen is the significant acceleration in. Technology was moving at an accelerated pace to begin with.

During the pandemic, it accelerated, I would say by multiple times. And we've come to rely on technology for a number of aspects, including Janet. You mentioned about all the online shopping that was happening, which I know I think has trended down a little, but it's not gone away.

It's never going to go away. So I said is just going to mention some numbers here. Just around the world. Paper transactions for supply chains cost 500 billion a year because it is paper based versus electronic. If I look at the food industry, $40 billion is wasted because of fraud in. It comes to the food industry when we are trying to feed the world and we are at the top five countries to feed the world, and when we are actually trying to reduce food wastage, increase food security, ensure that our food supply chain is more resilient, these numbers really do add up.

As it is, I do want to speak a little bit more to how do we actually use blockchain ensuring that because blockchain the biggest advantage so at all. I think of it as distributed ledger, immutable, immutability, and as the panel continues, I'd like to delve deeper into that. Thank you.

Speaking of blockchain, Erik, how is blockchain technology being used in Canada present? We have some amazing examples going on in Canada from agriculture. Absolutely. A great use case. We have a company in Winnipeg that's tracing ingredients through the supply chain to just to make sure that people who are gluten intolerant. Don't get poisoned. So we have a great company there.

We have a few different examples tracing agriculture. In mining as well. We even have an example of livestock traceability because again, brand recognition, right? The Canadian agriculture products in general are well recognized and well respected globally. So prove that you have a Canadian product, it goes a long way. And this company in Ontario is even doing.

want to make sure that everybody's ready for what I'm going to say here, sheep facial recognition, , so that they can trace the actual sheep all the way through the supply chain, right? Because apparently sheep have individual yeah, absolutely. Individual facial traits. So using blockchain, using new and emerging technologies like aiml and. Cool stuff. We have great examples. Mining is doing some great stuff as well.

Fisheries we're seeing a beautiful example. Gold. We have a company in Halifax tracing gold because who knew that gold has the fraud issues as well.

On the global, what I know, right? So it is being used today. And another statistic that I like to use Forbes every year publishes a list of top 50 blockchain companies. And again, you would think right, the banking industry or crypto where all those people, but almost 38%, 14 over the 50 have a supply chain components globally. So it's coming up there. Erik, you spoke earlier about. The misconceptions about blockchain technology and now you're just talking about some of the ways it's being used.

And I'm just wondering, when you are approaching various sectors, industries about adapting this kind of technology, what are you hearing and what are some of the challenges that they are facing? That's a great question. A lot of what we do at the association is about education and that's absolutely point number. We still have that misconception that we mentioned about cryptocurrencies and cryptography. But a lot of people, again, they hear blockchain, they hear, the crypto stuff and Bitcoin. So we are here to educate and a lot of the industry still needs to be educated, but most importantly, resources. We need more resources.

You have the smaller companies that don't have necessarily the blockchain programmer, right? The developers at their fingertips. Again, through the universities, the colleges, we need more students coming into this type of technology and cybersecurity and stuff like that. We're seeing beautiful programs, but resources and understanding, or by far, lead to biggest challenge that we're seeing. And Vidya with that you, you had talked earlier about food safety, for example, and I'm wondering where the agriculture department is in terms of blockchain technology, if it's being used, and if not, how would that help in terms of something like food safety? So at this point, have we started using blockchain for food safety from a government perspective? Not yet.

Is blockchain being used in our country, in the agriculture and food industry? Absolutely it is. Erik even gave a few examples, and this is already started because it is not a new technology. Distributed ledger has been around for quite some time, and those have figured out that, cryptocurrency is just one use case and there are numerous other use cases have been successfully using blockchain from a.

Safety perspective. And I do want to delve a little deeper here into food safety and why it is not just supply chain. And the food safety has some very important aspects with regards to certification of food, which is done by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and ensuring that the data that the food is safe for consumption is towed in the blockchain. And then when you.

From the farm to the table or from the farm to the dogs for shipping it outside the country, you have that digital verifiable proof, also called as verifiable credentials or digital credentials that many of you may have heard in the last, I would say few years, you do not ha need to be carrying around paper, which becomes very challenging to actually verify. Going back to the number I gave you, 500 billion being spent in paper verification just in food is so food safety and capturing this basic safety data that the food has no diseases has. I would say cultivated in land that is environmentally, I would say conducive and responsible social governance becomes a very important aspect. because going back to Erik's point, Canada is a trusted global food supplier and that brand of trust is very important for us to continue to maintain and continuing to maintain it just on.

It's not going to be number one, it's actually not going to be feasible because as we continue to feed the world, but secondly, it is also going to be hugely, I would say, disruptive because it's going to open up to even more fraud than what I had already mentioned. So that's my quick answer. That said, we are actively working on how we can start leveraging blockchain into traceability frameworks when it comes to safety. Okay.

Just to back up a little bit, who is entering the data in you? You talk about from the farms, who is putting, adding that data and at what point is that data being added? Okay, so general question, so I'm going to actually give you an example, not from Canada. I'm going to give you an example from because recently I met with the United Nations development. And they are working on food traceability in developing countries. So two countries that I spoke to. One is Ecuador, where they are tracing Coco from farm to export, and the other is India on spice trade.

So going back to your specific question, who is entering the information? So if I take the example, , the Spice Farmers, 3000 Spice Farmers have come together as a consortium because they want to export their spices, and believe it or not, spices actually have a lot of fraud, significant amount of fraud. I do know a little bit more about this because I'm originally from India, and the specific spices they are actually tracing is turmeric. Turmeric has the maximum amount of fraud because it's pretty easy to. Color a different kind of powder and sell it as turmeric. So the spice farmers have come together and going back to your question, who inputs the data? This, it starts right at the farm level where they are actually inputting the data based on certifications. So here they have the inspectors coming, inspecting the turmeric plant.

Okay, this all the check. You have the check mark with regards to the soil that meets the the regulations. It's fertilizer use check marks that yes, this is authentic turmeric and not a fake product.

That da data, that certification is entered into the blockchain and then it goes to the processing plant because typically we don't buy the tumor root here. We actually buy powder. It gets powdered in the processing flat.

They enter that data, then it. To the actual bulk producers, or I should say bulk distributors or thank you bulk distributors where they enter the data saying, okay, we have actually collected the turmeric from these 3000 different farmers and we know exactly which farms the point where, which plot of land down to not just. Acre square meters, or I should say one square meters of acreage, but it actually gets down to one square feet. Now, typically, you and I, when we are going and buying a spice, we don't look at that level of data. However it is available if we need to use it.

And then from the distributor, it get gets exported. And let's say we go to our local metro or superstore here. We don't, of course have a chance to see the data, but if we need to, the spice exporters from India are actually able to trace it back. Now, I'll just add one quick aspect.

So Walmart actually did do some traceability work, and they traced the problems of mangoes. They brought it down to 2.2 seconds to trace the origin of mangoes that they. Which in the past, based on all of the paper processes, took seven days. So using blockchain and all the data, and they didn't go into inputting 2000 data fields, the key data points required, they brought it down from seven days to 2.2 seconds. Impressive.

Okay. I'm just going to put on my, I grew up on a farm in Nova Scotia, so I'm going to put on my farmer's daughter's hat here for a second. Because there's still no wifi on the family farm.

My brother does everything on an old Android. He can go to, it's not cheap, his cattle, and he can identify each one in their market and it's all up here. So I'm wondering the challenge, and there's no internet connection where he lives, which is what was raised earlier. So how, if we're going to start.

Traceability. If you can't start it at the farm, doesn't, aren't we just lost before we even started? And I'm wondering, Erik, in terms of as you talk to different businesses and farmers, what are in addition to just basic internet connection, what are some of the other challenges and how do we get beyond? Another great question and we're seeing the same exact problem in other countries, right? In developing countries where not everybody has internet connection or stable internet connection, but you can enter some information on your mobile phone and you have farmers and. In Ecuador is in Ecuador not too long ago you can enter your basic information on your phone, which is somewhat geotag, right? So you can start the chain there, get back to civilization, and then start your chain. You don't need to have live information all the time, but it's a question of traceability. So yes, you need internet, right? Eventually.

Do you need it at the very moment? No, you do not. And there's always around it. You can have a mobile phone. You have a web browser.

Yes. Developing countries, you'll have IUT devices and more robust technologies. But it's about sending information to this ledger eventually where you can trace back or you can digitize documentation. It's not, you don't need real time.

Real time. You don't need the quantum physics of modern technology to, to go on blockchain. You can start with a mobile app and and a web browser eventually, and and get it going. Just to pick up on that though, when you're talking about, you can start with a mobile app or a web browser, is that standardized? Are there standards in terms of when you're inputting that? Is there a standard of for that? That's another great question. As we digitize, a lot of people are working on a lot of different standard. So supply chains in general are not standardized a whole lot.

People are looking into it. And from a blockchain perspective too, I'm actually the Canadian chair of the mirror committee that reports to iso. So we're working on developing blockchain standards globally, right? 200 something countries. Vocabulary, taxonomy rules, governance, all that stuff. So as we digitize, yes, we're developing standards as a industry.

Supply chain is not necessarily standardized, but that doesn't keep us from moving forward. A standard is a business language that helps us do business more efficiently together, right? Cause we're speaking the same language. I want to go back to something that you spoke of just a moment ago when you were talking in regards to the mango example in Walmart and how getting that traceability down to 2.2 seconds, how would if we were fully digitized here in Canada, in terms of how would that impact, if you will, food security within our own? Wow. Now that is a fantastic question and the part one of your question was if we were, I'm just speaking in the agriculture terms, if our agriculture land, and I would say agriculture produce was fully digitized.

Now I know that's going to take a while, but I'm going to come to other countries. How they're doing it is, and how would that actually provide us, I'd say more data on. Food security. It's a game changer.

The reason I say it's a game changer is because it's, we are a very large country and apart, keeping aside our trade, that we are also playing a big role in feeding the world. We have to also feed our own country first, and even just within our country is with the lack of digitization. And when I say digitization, it's not. network. It is the data that goes actually into our digital, I'd say the digitizing our supply chains. Without that data at this point, our supply chains, they basically are as robust as the few points.

So between a farmer and their next, I would say, their next point of distribution, and then the next point of distribution says, okay, now I'm going to be supplying it to the trucking. And then the trucking company picks up and says, okay, I'm going to be providing it to the bigger distributors who then provide it to maybe the superstore. So each of these links is very silent. I'm not saying there is absolutely no digitization there. I'm sure as you get bigger and bigger into the.

Superstore, I'm sure has a lot of digital technologies as well as, and we've noticed some of them recently in the news, not superstore, but others have also been having some cyber attack issues for those of you keeping in touch with the cybersecurity aspects. But when you get down to the entire supply chain, the food supply chain is extremely. But this is where technology such as blockchain become very effective is because you don't need it to be that complex. Because right now most of it is manual processing, and if one aspect gets missed, it then impacts the entire supply chain. Okay, I'm going to go back to the farmer scenario.

So years ago my cousins owned a large beef. in the valley and one of those cows came down with mad cow disease and it was cul herd, like everything had to be slaughtered. And I'm wondering, with this kind of technology, and you could say the same with romaine lettuce out on a field, if there's e coli, how close can you get to isolating exactly where it was to salvage the rest of that crop, where the rest of that hurt with this kind of.

I would say it can be as precise as you want it to be. So taking romaine lettuce as an example, it's now, if it's a very particular plot of land where, which has been infested, it's, you can actually isolate that and make it very clear in the data that it has been isolated. And then the rest of the romaine letters from that particular farm or from the farms. Surrounding it would be because you can actually prove through.

Again, coming down to digital credentials, but I want to add an extra word that we have not yet used today is trust data gives us trust and data in a blockchain gives us immutable trust. And I'll let Erik comment on the immutability because he's more, he's the blockchain expert, not me, but to your point, as consumer. But even before it comes to us as consumers, it's the distributors.

It's the actual people who are the large companies who are buying this produce. They want to be able to trust the produce that they are actually buying and to get that trust. The technologies that we just discussing today, including getting down to the on farm level with that data.

Because the data has to be, of course, we need to have the data and the data cannot be on pieces of paper because it's very easy to have fraud, I would say, to be able to fraud the system. When it comes to paper, when it comes to digitizing it, you remove the fraud aspect and you create it as trusted credentials. Okay, I'm going to put on a cynical half here. As a journalist, one always has to have a bit of cynicism but you're still relying on humans to input that.

So Erik, what I'm wondering is the, then there's a whole lot of trust. How do we trust that input is correct? Two, two parts to that answer. A, you can eliminate the human aspect.

of entering data. That's where we see IOT devices collecting weather data, location data shock data, right? Transportation data, all sorts of data that we're not actually collecting today. So we can remove that aspect and avoid, yes, the data entry errors or the frauds. So by automated automating stuff with technology but you can also, as you collect more information, you can use that data to identify potential fraud.

Whereas before you weren't collecting information. Now you are, and you can use AI and you can use dashboards, and you can use visibility throughout your supply chain to identify. Potential fraud because you know your supply chain, right? A Walmart knows their supply chain in general, so they can probably spot what's going on or any potential issues. So if we know the supply chain, Vidya, what does that then do to trade? So if we know the supply chain, what it does to trade is it gives us. Number one is we've already spoken about the Canada brand being a trusted brand, and as we move forward into, as we delve deeper into this decade, what's happening around the world is consumers want to know exactly where their products are coming from. Just having the sign that says, made in Canada or produced in Canada.

So far it's been going on okay, but as we move forward, other countries have already. Requesting information with regards to responsible growing. What is the environment and sustainability goals that were actually applied with regards to the growth of this particular product or how it was processed.

Second aspect I would say, which we have not yet touched upon, is when it comes to trade, there's the other aspect of trade where trades can, I would say trade supply chains can also be disrupted when there is data. Me and what I say when I speak about data poisoning is going back to your remain letter example. If we do not have trusted data, whether it's input, I would say through automated means or input through verified, I would say certifications.

If we do not have that in a trusted blockchain or distributed ledger here, it's easy to poison the data, saying, okay, that plot of land, there's nothing wrong with it, but for. I would say nefarious reasons. People can say they could be. It doesn't take much effort to actually say, just through a cyber interference, say that plot of land has a particular chemical that is not, let's say, that's not healthy to humans, and that means right away you disrupt a trade supply chain from an entire region. So data poisoning, which is the opposite side of, I would say, is. Right now we've been talking about how do we ensure the data that we are able to input the data.

But there is the other aspect. If we are not going to be working, I would say in a very deliberate way to have trusted data in our supply chains, data poisoning could also play a very important role because we, using paper, it's pretty easy to forge paper and say, you know what? This particular product coming from a particular area has chemicals that are not safe for human consumption, and that. Chains, supply chains in a big one.

And I guess the flip side of that, then, in terms of a trade dispute over say tomatoes or someone else may say tomato say tomatoes in China, for example, if we're able to trace that tomato. To China and say, look, that was Himso. I didn't mean to pick on China. It could be anywhere in another country.

And we're able to trace that bad tomato to that country. Then we've got the hard evidence and say, yes, it, it did come from your country. You need to clean this up. Yes.

And so speaking of other countries, and I'm not going to be naming any countries here, is. In general in Europe, Europe is really picking up the pace from a regulatory standpoint to ask for data as evidence, trusted data. They want to see the data when it comes to what they're importing, especially on the food, whether it's the primary agriculture or whether it's actually processed food.

They want to see the details of the data and just saying this is made in a certain country is not good enough for. And from an environment perspective, from a greenhouse gas emissions perspective, from a net zero perspective, as well as from social governance perspective, to back to your example, because from an, and you were speaking from an import perspective, is yes. If you're able to trace back saying, okay, we don't have to stop an entire supply chain from a particular country because of one bad. One plot of land having bad tomatoes is tomatoes.

And see, now I'm confused, which is the right pronunciation. It's . And yes, when you're actually having traceable data that you can pinpoint to as precise as you want to be able to say, That lot of land over on that particular farm or that particular very small part of a region. We can say this year we can export, but the rest can export. So the supply chain resiliency gets to be a lot stronger because you're not xing an entire part of a country or a region because of a very smallish.

Just want to pick up, you were talking about Europe, Erik, where does, or how does Canada compare when it comes to using blockchain technology compared to other countries, other regions? Unfortunately we're not seeing as much momentum as certain other regions. Asia is very dynamic. Around using the technology? Yes. From a financial standpoint, but from a supply chain standpoint as well. Africa is going nuts on blockchain overall.

Absolutely. They don't have the legacy that we have, right? We, we've had all these iterations of technology and we've matured slowly. They don't have the baggage, so they've jumped on blockchain, they trust, they see the importance of brand recognition.

And food security and food traceability and all that. And a bit. South America. North America, yes.

We are robust. We understand technology, so we're using it. We're using, we mentioned we're using it here in Canada in different ways, but from a, just a passion and a uptake perspective, I think we're falling a bit behind why, again, that maturity, I always harsh on a specific technology that supply chain uses a whole lot at edi, at electronic data interchange. We use that in supply chains a whole lot because it is a robust technology. But that technology's been around for 70 years and it's our more robust technology that we use in supply chain or more digital technology that we use. I.

We're due for something new. We're due for something a bit more modern. But you spoke earlier that it's not, the technology is, we still have a ways to go in terms of agriculture. Why is it, what are the challenges for agriculture beyond the farmers that may not have access to broadband, but what are some of the other challenges trying to adapt to this new technology? And it's interesting because Erik just spoke about what's, a little bit, I would say a snapshot of what's happening around the world. And he hit the nail on a very interesting point, which is the legacy. Because emerging countries, and this is mostly in Asia and Africa, they are leapfrogging, they did not have much technology.

And as the cost of leveraging technology is reducing, they are leapfrogging, they are digitizing farms. Just using s. And having a few gps sensors onto their tractors because they did not invest heavily, I would say, in the last 30 to 40 years in buying large equipment because they were actually doing manual labor in order to get their farming going.

So as technology got cheaper, they just leap. At our end, apart from looking at the broad bad connectivity, because I think we've spoken a little bit about that our farming community had invested, it's in the millions of dollars with regards to the equipment we use. And the same thing in our processing plants is this is equipment that has been heavy investment and now to move away from sunk costs, sunk investments into newer. Requires, I would say some technology debt, which is a term we use quite often, I would say nowadays.

Secondly is skilled skilled labor and competency in leveraging technology, which is an area I would say as a country. And I'm really curious to hear what Erik's thoughts are on the skill spot here is because we are lack. Significant I would say labor force when it comes to the technology field and it comes to agriculture. So for the first time in our country in 2023 in Alberta, all college is going to start Canada's first bachelor's degree in digital agriculture, first ever in the country.

We and that's in 2023. Fall of 2023 is going to be the first time we are starting. I was like, wow, I'm, I wouldn't be surprised that other countries have been doing this for a long time and they are struggling. I think to even, they were struggling to get this off the ground, but now to actually even keep it going with regards to having the skilled, I would say workforce to teach the courses, but also to meet the demand.

Because when I met with them, I was actually at Olds College a few months ago. They said Farmers are sending the next generation, they're sending their kids. To the colleges saying, we know that just knowing farming is not enough, we know that we need to also understand even the basics of how technology works. So I find that to be a skills issue as well as a cost issue. I'm curious to hear from Erik.

Thoughts, Erik, go ahead. That's a, that's both a encouraging statement and a sad statement at the same time. We're at 2023 and we're starting this out.

Same from an enterprise perspective. There's a lack of students, there's a lack of resources coming along. You have certain colleges, both in cybersecurity launching in technology in general, that have put a focus on it. They still struggle to, to attract students. I think the Ictc did a study not too long ago.

About the need to put some resources, some money into forming our next students. But when they get into enterprise too, there's a lack of support and resources for these people. We're trying, we're working again with the I Ictc in Toronto Metropolitan College on placing some co-op students within companies that come from cybersecurity. Female technology students have a hard time still today, again, in Canada, 2023. Have a hard time gain the industry.

So we need to do a bit better. We need to put our money where our money and our mouth where we need to go and just make it happen. Speaking of that, Over the past month, the standing committee on industry and te.

have held three meetings on blockchain technology. I'm wondering, Erik, if you were to appear before that committee, what you would say ? I'd say probably . No, again, it's about resources from a blockchain perspective. I'm encouraged by what video's been mentioning and some conversations we had before the session at that. The government of Canada is looking into it.

They see the benefit of the technology. It's one of many tools, right? That exists. It's not just about blockchain.

It's one of many tools. Yes, we need better internet. Yes, we need better students. Yes, we need a whole bunch of different things around technology. But again, having the support from the government of Canada and.

Being vocal about about blockchain because that's my area of passion. Like other countries have said again, we're not mentioning certain countries, but certain countries have said you. We trust blockchain. The FDA in the USA said, we trust blockchains not the only answer for traceability of pharmaceuticals, for example, but we trust blockchain, we're putting our weight behind it, right? So they've seen different initiatives around that and it's moving forward.

So seeing the government of Canada put their weight behind and their trust behind blockchain technology would open up. video. You spoke earlier about by the year 2050, we're at over 9 billion people that Canada's top five agriculture exports.

I'm wondering if we're not there in terms of adopting blockchain technology, what does that mean for Canada are standing in terms of being an export and a strong exporter of agriculture? And the trust, as you were talking about earlier in our system, if we don't adapt very quickly. A very interesting question, Janet, I can see your journalism aside, really starting to come through as we are delving deeper is so yes, it's actually almost 10 billion by 2050. It was like 9.7 billion based on, I, I think it'll be closer to 10 billion. It's so I would say, , we have no choice because we have land. We are the second largest country in the world and we are in the top five.

I would say. Countries feeding the world, we have to adapt because otherwise we would, because I would rather us getting get. In the beginning, and that's why I want to work close more closely with Erik as he is part of the standard setting initiatives as well. Because as part of the government, going to be honest, is it I don't see the government setting up a blockchain network to be doing this. That's said other countries are doing it, India is doing it. They've sent up the blockchain highways over there.

I don't believe that we are there yet. And we don't, I'm not saying the government has to be the only. Setting a blockchain highways here, it can be done through industry because we do have great industry partners, but setting the frameworks, setting the regulations, government can play a very important role. And if we do not do that, I think we are going to be forced to do it because other countries are actually going to be asking for trusted data and in order to be able to continue.

Feeding the world even continue. I would say having trade, even with our biggest trading partner with the US because I was recently meeting with U S D A and the fda. This is picking up momentum. So I would say is it at the minimum we will be working with the us to I would say force this agenda forward and work on frameworks and regulations on the side. I'm going to open it up to the floor in just a moment for questions.

I'm just going to ask one more question of Erik and then think of yours and then we'll go to the audience. Eric, in terms of, we were talking about governments and your push for governments to get involved and to be supportive, and I'm wondering, as you are talking to industries and you talk spoke earlier about misconceptions. I'm wondering in terms of when you meet with industry, , are they on board? Are they ready to make that leap? Great question. The supply chain folks, absolutely right. They live, they breathe this stuff every day. They fight the fires every day where we need a bit more supports and that's part of the work that we do at the association is getting or c-suites to understand the benefits of these tech.

We've been discussing right, food recalls a lot. Imagine the cost of a food recall if you have to pull everything off your shelves because it takes seven to nine days to trace back your romaine lettuce or your tomatoes. And you have to, empty all the supermarkets in Canada because you're not sure where it comes from. Instead of, a few seconds where you can pull one shelf in one supermarket, so that there's a direct cost to that.

There's a cost to to the the. Automation of our processes too. There's another great use case in transportation where Walmart, again, big thought leader saved something. Or the rumor is they save 30 million just in automating their invoicing, their freight invoicing, right? Paying their trucking companies, which is something that we do on a daily basis. So going back to your question.

Industry leaders. Yes. So showing the C-suite that it's worth investing in emerging technologies, newer technologies. Looking at it is again, is a challenge, but the supply chain folks, they get it.

Okay. Audience, I'd like to know, anybody here have a question for either one of our guests? Just a moment, please. I believe there's a mic coming to you. Lynn Hamilton, internet Society, just for the folks online.

Thank you so much. This has been really informative. My question is this as we're dealing with farmers and everyone's been hit hard by the pandemic. Do you see, and this is probably not, if you can't answer, that's okay and I'll follow it up, but do we see a role in government, much like they're subsidizing a lot of the broadband and things that are happening, is there a role for government to play on the family farms, as you suggested, to help them automate and make sure that the digitization is happening? Or do at the Internet Society need to start a lobby campaign for you So the reason this is an interesting question is because, recently, and so this comes down to the cost factor for digitization and...

Yes, so I'm not going to directly answer your question, but I'm going to give you an example here. So here in the country is because I was out west, so I've spent a lot of time in the last little while since I was able to travel for work again, it's, I've been spending my time in know whether it's the eastern part of the country or the western part of the country. And what I noticed when I went out west was the small scale ag tech companies were being bought out by the big tech. And one of them is tell.

So Telus has set up an agriculture arm and maybe there's someone from Telus here is maybe not aids, and I met with Telus. They're doing a great job. Now, the cost factor, just going back to what we heard in our opening today, was the cost factor of internet service providers that continues to apply for the cost factor from it comes to big tech separate. Couple of months ago I was at the UK and attending an innovation summit in agri technology and there were companies from around the world. And India has become an AgTech leader in providing digitization on farm digitization.

They do it for $10 per hectare. Sometimes they bring the cost down to $1 per hectare for large scale farms. So what becomes in, and they now want to have a piece of the North American market, especially the Canadian market, because they have been applying.

That is because the way they look at it. It's on farm digitization is they have, they're using satellites and the satellites are already there and they have set a big foothold in Africa. They mo want to move into North America. I would say from a price point perspective, they're going to have a lot of business. We're going to eat our lunch.

. Literally I didn't answer your question directly, but I wanted to give you what is happening where it becomes a lot cheaper to digitize if we are going outside with big techs that we are used to where we pay significant high costs. So it's like the MVNO model for agTech. Excellent.

This is great. Thank you so much. Anyone else? Just a moment please.

There's a mic coming too. Hi. Thank you very much. It's been really interesting.

I used to work at a produce association that represents the fruit and vegetable supply chain, which because produce is so perishable and so much is imported, Produce supply chain is really important and it's why that industry has an association representing just the supply chain and supply chain issues. And I thought it was really interesting that you raised the Walmart example and the mangoes because with food safety in particular, before governments started to raise food safety standards in particular what drove adoption for a lot of agricultural. Suppliers wasn't meeting government standards, it was meeting the requirements and the certification requirements of retailers and which were a lot stricter than government requirements. And so is that something that you're seeing now in terms of digitization or is it something that can be leveraged to meet or to drive the adoption within the intercultural sector of encouraging retailers to require and to require more data, down the supply chain. I'll take a crack at that, and I'm actually also going to then request Erik to jump in as well on, on a particular aspect. So you are absolutely right.

So as I said, is when I have been traveling in different parts of the country, is that I actually went to a basically a hog processing facility out west. And their biggest, they are almost, I would say 80%. They do supply within Canada and for all of their export. The country that is importing demands very specific information.

So when they're preparing salami, they are able to trace where their spice is coming from. They are able to trace where, because in some, they some dairy product, which is considered an allergen, they actually even have a separate supply chain for it because the importing end is demand. That level of detail, including going back to your point on the free calls, if one particular allergen has been infected, they can actually trace right back to the source and they have this information right in their labeling. What I found interesting was they have a separate set of labeling.

For their exports with that level of detail and a separate set for sale within our country, which does not have any of that information. So it is being demand driven. And the reason I wanted Erik to jump in is that Erik, from a standardization perspective, because I know that you had mentioned that you are the Canadian chair working with the iso. Curious to know what level of work is happening. I know this is an agriculture example, but it can be applied to any of our supply chains.

Sorry, I'm punting a question over to him. , From a standards perspective we're working on the definition of blockchain and there's the big joke, in the beginning was blockchain, one word or two, right? So they had to establish a standard. There was one word, right? So standards, jokes. But from a supply chain industry in general, we're seeing a lot. A lot more efforts around digitization standards so that can the shipping industry is moving towards certain standards because a, not even 1% of all bills of lading globally are digital, so they're still paper based. So 99 point something percent are still paper based.

So as we move digital, not every shipping company does their bill of lading the same way. So how. Facilitate that. So a lot of different standards, industry based, regulatory based, not so much, but just the framework of everything and how we talk to each other is being worked on. But standards are long and painful and bureaucratic because you're dealing with 200 countries or more. Any other questions from the audience back there? I guess it will take a long time if you can't decide if blockchain is one word or two.

. Now it's been resolved. Is it one word? It's one word. It's one word. Okay. I'm sorry, go ahead. Oh, hi. My name is {inaudible], I used to work in the fishing industry in Nova Scotia.

So I'd have a question to Erik about the supply chain. I understand that we can put a sticker with a barcode on a mango, but however, how can we do, how can we digitalize the, the traceability part for the fishing industry? Because as far as I know, we are still based on paid. Paper. Yeah. So it's very difficult for us to work remotely or even hybrid because we mainly need to be physically present in the office, and also if we apply the digital product on traceability, how will it affect the cost? Great question.

The fishing industry is another industry, unfortunately, we are seeing this trend around fraud, a lot of fraud in seafood in general. When you're buying something at the supermarket, it says tilapia. Is it really tilapia? You can't really barcode it, but you do. And you can put physical or physical markers or DNA markers in certain things as well. We're seeing it being done in bunker fuel for shipping, because again, there's fraud in that industry.

So going back to your question, if you're on the vessel a all these vessels have satellite these days, so technology in Canada to when you get back to ports and you offload your things, you can start that chain there. Your fisher person, not fisherman, you're Fisher person can enter stuff in, into their mobile phone. And when they get the, again to port, they upload the information. So there's a bunch of different ways where we can start the chain. And when you start the chain, you can follow through the chain, which is where it becomes important for the consumer. And also how would it affect the cost then? Would it be very expensive compared with paper based system? We always tend to shy away from questions of cost because it depends, right? It depends on the use case, it depends on what you're trying to accomplish.

But I'll give you a, an. Again, I'm old. I have gray hair. I know what a plasma TV is. Who knows what a plasma TV is? Yeah.

Not so many, right? So when a plasma TV would come out, new technology comes out, it's always more expensive, right? That first plasma TV would cost 10, $10,000 and now you can't even buy one. Or you can buy one for 500. And it's the same for a new emerging technology. Is this the same for blockchain technologies? It used to cost, right? There was a rough number going around that used to cost a million dollars to do a proof of concepts.

It's coming down now. You can go on Amazon Web Services, I think one of your sponsors, I aws. You can have your own managed blockchain on, on Amazon, and you have blockchain as services coming out. You have tons of different new options coming out and the cost is going way down.

Perfect. Thank you very much. This has been a really great discussion and I want to thank our panelists, Vidya ShankarNarayan, assistant Deputy Minister in Agriculture in AgriFood, Canada, and Erik Valiquette, co-founder and president of the Canadian Blockchain Association. Thank you so much. Thank you.

2022-12-12 16:16

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