Far North Queensland irrigation district trials blockchain
Blockchain technology is being trialed in the Far North Queensland irrigation district, Mareeba-Dimbulah, to enhance water trading in the region. The pilot project uses technology developed by young Australian company Civic Ledger and is financed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia. The chief executive officer and co-founder of Civic Ledger, Katrina Donaghy, stated blockchain-enabled an asset to be moved from person A to person B in a way that couldn’t be duplicated visible to everyone in the market.
In the Mareeba-Dimbulah irrigation district, where frequently fruit and sugar cane is grown, it’s believed the technology will encourage irrigators trade between themselves, allowing for better utilization of the water that is available. Chairman of the Mareeba-Dimbulah irrigation scheme and mango grower Joe Moro said he understood the blockchain technology as a way to append transparency to water trading in the region.
“In the Mareeba-Dimbulah irrigation area, there is some water trading going on, but it’s an experiment, in a sense that the information isn’t available, people don’t know who wants to sell and at what price,” Mr. Moro said in a statement. “This technology would make clear what’s available, and the determination of price would be much easier.”
He stated the irrigation district, which assists more than 1000 water users and has a total of 204,424 megalitres in water entitlements, was in a growth cycle, with an expanding number of high-value horticultural crops being established. “It was traditionally a tobacco growing area, but once tobacco was shut down by the government, it became a very diverse horticultural and sugar cane base,” Mr. Moro said in a statement.
“With banana plants in a seven-year cycle and fruit trees able to produce for 20 to 30 years or more, there is an interest in long-term water security.” He stated most growers had medium priority water that was extremely reliable, with a 100% allocation declared nearly every year. “There is also a percentage of water that is unused, we refer to it as insurance water, which is available for temporary transfer,” Mr. Moro said in a statement.
CRCNA chief executive officer, Jed Matz, stated one of the purposes they were financing the project was discovering how much water could be made accessible for further agricultural use. “What we’ve heard, talking to the producers up there, is if they had more water available to them, they would expand their operations, or value adds,” Mr. Matz said in a statement. “That’s the anecdotal evidence, now we can try and put some numbers behind it with this research,” Mr. Matz said in a statement.
He stated blockchain technology would also eliminate the transaction cost for trading water. “The price will also be more transparent, it will be interesting how that impacts the system as well,” he said in a statement. The blockchain technology is created to operate within the existing regulations, which in the Mareeba-Dimbulah scheme means water can only be traded with other users in the system.
Ms. Donaghy said Civic Ledger was in association with both Griffith University and the RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub, who, following the project, would assess the technical design, allowing blockchain to be quickly rolled out in other irrigation schemes. “We hope what we achieve at Mareeba will continue, and we can work on building new water markets throughout northern Australia,” Ms. Donaghy said in a statement.