It’s no secret that the food industry is rapidly awaking to the great promise of blockchain technology, and headlines abound about how it promises to make traditional paper ledger-based transactions obsolete, replaced by digital ledgers. That could revolutionize the food supply chain, which remains burdened by sketchy accountability. Part of the challenge in assuring that blockchain fulfills its promise is connecting the right people—everyone from farmers, to fishermen to warehouse managers to data scientists. Another part of the challenge, though, is educating people in the food industry so that they can implement blockchain-based food source tracing solutions, and more.
At major business schools ranging from Berkeley to Wharton, students are flocking to classes on blockchain and cryptocurrency. As CNBC recently reported: “According to a new survey of 675 U.S. undergraduate students by cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase and Qriously, 9 percent of students have already taken a class related to blockchain or cryptocurrency and 26 percent want to take one.”
But you don’t have to be an MBA student to study blockchain basics. Recently, we’ve covered how blockchain could have mitigated the California Romaine lettuce crisis by providing more rigorous and easier-to-access sourcing information on where tainted lettuce as coming from. We’ve also covered blockchain’s growing role in tracing fishy seafood sourcing origins, which could give us confidence that the fish we think we are buying actually is what the label says it is.
That’s why it’s going to be essential for many people in the food industry to educate themselves on how blockchain works, how to implement a solution, who to partner with, and who is already running efficient blockchain deployments. The good news is that much of the underlying technology required is free and open source, with organizations such as hyperledger working hard to make sure they stay that way. Hyperledger is a multi-project open source collaborative effort hosted by The Linux Foundation, created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies. Brian Behlendorf, the Executive Director of the project, has been named one of the top 10 influential voices in the blockchain world by the New York Times.
With open source solutions, food industry players can often pay nothing to implement a blockchain deployment. These players need education, though, so where can they turn?
There is more good news on this front, in that many of the best educational options for blockchain are either free or available at a nominal cost. In addition, there are a number of good online, self-paced educational options. Let’s consider some of the best courses.
Udemy offers many online blockchain courses priced at under $10, including The Basics of Blockchain, Learn How to Build Your First Blockchain, and Pass the Certified Blockchain Developer Exam. All these courses are self-paced online and available for $9.99. In the Basics of Blockchain course, TED speaker Bettina Warburg “connects the dots between the business, economics, and technology of Blockchain.”
The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger project has steadily produced the key open technologies favored by blockchain developers, most notably Hyperledger Fabric–a foundation for developing blockchain applications or solutions with modular architectures.
These are a couple of the key courses offered by The Linux Foundation, with the first course priced at $299 while the second course is free:
Hyperledger Fabric Fundamentals (LFD271) Teaches the fundamental concepts of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies.
Blockchain for Business – An Introduction to Hyperledger Technologies (LFS171)A primer to blockchain and distributed ledger technologies. Learn how to start building blockchain applications with Hyperledger frameworks.
These are self-paced online courses and the Fabric Fundamentals course is taught by the folks who created Hyperledger Fabric. You can find even more blockchain training options from The Linux Foundation here.
The Linux Foundation and hyperledger have done quite a bit of outreach to various industries to raise awareness of low-cost blockchain training options, and make clear that learning about blockchain does not require advanced technical skills. Still, there will be challenges in getting some non-technical participants in the food industry to take advantage of available blockchain training options. There are non-profit organizations tackling these challenges, and a good place to start is to join The Global Blockchain Business Council.
By joining The Global Blockchain Business Council, you can gain access to a lot of content about how blockchain works. You can also connect with other people and organizations who are actually deploying blockchain solutions.
In the food industry and across many other industries ranging from healthcare to finance, blockchain development and management skills are going to become ever more valuable. Careers website Glassdoor lists thousands of job posts related to blockchain, and the numbers are growing.
Interested in more? At a 2018 Smart Kitchen Summit panel, executives from ripe.io and Walmart discussed the promise of blockchain in the food industry, food safety, and which groups of people need to get connected for blockchain solutions to work. Watch the video to hear the whole conversation.