Comment: Let’s all learn our ABC

We need to consider all sides of the equation

Opinion, Comment & analysis

It’s amazing — the continued fall-out of the global financial crisis, that is. A crisis caused by the greed and arrogance of both the financial industry who believed it was bigger than the audience it served and a government naïve enough to provide an unyielding backbone to this greed.Fast forward to a different dimension, where we have three cricketers who believed they were bigger than the game and their public would forgive their indiscretions as long as they won. See the similarity?

The solution to the Great Depression was to create the New Deal, reforms and regulations that sought, amongst other things, to constrain the banking industry and support farmers. A noble notion, except that over time we created an inflated banking industry that ultimately imploded in 2007 and a farming industry which sprayed chemicals like confetti to create profit. “Oh no we’ve done it again, silly us” they cried as they hauled themselves off the ground contemplating another self-orchestrated disaster. “It’s ok”, they rallied “We can dust ourselves down and start again. Everyone is bound to forgive and forget.” Except they didn’t. Did they?

The world is changing and changing at pace. But human frailties and arrogance means we repeat the same mistakes and think we can get away with it. Welcome to the world of disruption through tech as opposed to disruption by humans.

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Tech disruptors like Uber and Airbnb are challenging the institutionally protected status quo and look at the reaction — Cairo and London banning Uber. But why were these businesses started and why have they become a phenomenon in an incredibly short period of time?

It is not about social media or about convenience and choice, it is about a desire to dismantle the self-serving fortresses that protect products and services that should exist to make our lives easier, but instead exist to protect generations of institutional money and ensure that the wealth is kept in the hands of the few. This is how the world has always operated and this is the very thing that will change as transparency becomes the most important word in society.

Transparency in the supply chain is paramount if the consumer’s desire for knowledge of where their food is coming from is to be realised. So, let’s use the latest technology to create something that has long lasting and beneficial effects. Blockchain was established to provide a visible, transparent and secure way to record transactions and this process can also be used to create a more transparent supply chain.

The UAE imports around 85% of its food needs and local agriculture contributes just 4-5% of GDP, so we have a great opportunity to create a Blockchain-supported supply chain that can increase demand for locally grown, responsibly farmed produce. Blockchain as part of agritech can track the growth of our produce, allowing buyers to ensure that it was harvested at the right time, that no modifications have been made and crucially giving consumers’ visibility on buyer prices.

This increase in demand for local produce based on the transparency of information will lead in turn to the development of more farms and a stronger, local supply chain. We can increase the contribution to GDP just by being transparent.

If the UAE wants to be considered as a leading global culinary destination, then it needs to consider all sides of the equation.

It is not just about fancy imported ideas and mimicking concepts we have all seen on our travels, it is about owning the industry from A-Z and A is for Agriculture, B is for Blockchain and C is for change.

About the Author: Sanjay Murthy is managing director of Figjam, a concept development agency that strongly believes in externally-focused strategies that puts the customer at the heart of every decision. With over 25 years of brand development experience, Sanjay is a strong believer in social capitalism and that businesses should follow the example of the New Zealand All Blacks and seek to leave the shirt (in this case, the world) in a better place than they found it. He can be reached at sanjay@figjamco.com

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