THE FUTURE OF AGRICULTURE
Erhan Cakmak, founder and CEO of Pavocoin, is leading a sea change in agricultural finance and technology by providing a blockchain solution using a cryptocurrency for today’s growers, enabling efficient and innovative planning and solutions for the world’s agricultural communities.
By Daniel Coats, California Business Journal
When Erhan Cakmak looks out the windows of his downtown San Francisco office, he gazes on an example of the urbanization that is transforming the world and thinks of new opportunities to innovate agriculture so that food and nutrition can be supplied to the planet’s seven billion people with greater efficiency, adaptability and economy.Through Pavocoin, a cryptocurrency blockchain solution designed for agricultural growers of crops ranging from oranges to almonds, Cakmak seeks to make the job of feeding people easier and adaptable for the realities of today’s society.The Pavocoin revolution has already come to the Golden State, with the blockchain solution installed in some Central Valley farms, where walnut and almond growers in such heartland communities as Dixon, Sacramento and Stockton are measuring vital metrics such as humidity and soil moisture through the company’s innovative platform.
What is Pavocoin? While cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are the watchwords of many futurists, the terminology and format is still obscure to much of the population. But Cakmak and others point out that, within a few years, the technology will play a massive role in the functioning of the global economy.“Cryptocurrencies will flourish and prosper, helping businesses be cashless and frictionless in a trusted fashion,” Cakmak says. “They will also will be less expensive than current banking transactions and payment tools such as credit cards and digital payment methodologies, including PayPal. Cryptocurrencies will provide the pathway to transform the financial system and remove costly processes that don’t provide real benefits. These currencies are also likely to become much more regulated, with new entrants into the marketplace undergoing a process similar to an IPO.”Among the uses for Pavocoin are smart forward agricultural contracts, which are designed to assist the vast majority of global agribusinesses that are family-owned and struggle with the limitations of the traditional financial industry.“Small- to mid-sized farmers are not currently served by the financial services industry. For example, not every farmer and not every crop can use existing standardized futures contracts,” Cakmak says. “Farmers always struggle with cash flow. Smart forward contracts leverage secure blockchain technology to enable these underserved farmers to sell their contracts on forward, that is, before they deliver the crop. This provides efficiency for them in the near-term and helps solve the cash flow problem.”Using the Pavocoin, farmers have much more than a means of exchange. They have a wealth of opportunity at their fingertips.“Through a web browser or mobile phone app, farmers access our platform, which collects data on their crop, applies sophisticated algorithms and data science, and gives them recommendations and guidance on how to get the most from their crop,” Cakmak says.The coin will also be the primary unit of account for the Pavo online agricultural marketplace.“We will connect consumers, families, local restaurants and local grocers directly to farmers through the marketplace. Farmers will have the ability to issue smart coupons through the Pavo token to these buyers. The coin will be the preferred accepted currency in the marketplace. We anticipate this can translate to hundreds of millions of transactions with the coin annually.”Pavocoin also expects to produce agricultural data and other virtual data for the use of corporate data sciences and university researchers. Already, the company is in discussion with faculty members at UC Davis to develop systems for outreach to farmers through the platform. Pavocoin recently recruited Dr. Darin Detwiler from Northeastern University to its adviser roster to strengthen the research base in agriculture, food sustainability and food trace back.From the Ground UpLaunched in summer 2017, Pavocoin initially focused on high-value crops, such as tree nuts and grapes. But with a versatile technological foundation, Cakmak emphasizes that there is no limit to the crops that may be served by the concept.“From spinach to strawberries, from carrots to kale, Pavo’s technology can be applied to make farming operations more efficient,” he says.Among the growth areas for Pavocoin is a platform solution for all of agribusiness, that would enable growers and the supply chain to follow the crop lifecycle from seed to store or farm to fork.“We can install a seven-acre farm with our system in about two hours and the farmer can use it immediately,” he says. “Delivering on the promise of our road map will take a little longer and we aim to complete our product by August 2019 with the help of funds from the planned initial coin offering.”A versatile and international team, including staff, advisors and partners — with cumulative experience of more than 150 years in high-tech management, cryptocurrencies and agriculture — guides Pavocoin from the company’s Switzerland headquarters and other global hubs.“We are looking to hire driven and passionate people to join our team to continue to create value for the whole agricultural ecosystem,” says Cakmak, who emphasizes his experience in building passionate and diverse teams in his background, which has spanned the operations visualization and software industries.The Great IndoorsFor millennia, farming has meant toiling in the open fields or orchards of the great outdoors and being a farmer has been synonymous with a rural lifestyle, far removed from the hubbub of the city. But with the world’s population expected to top nine billion by 2050 and increasing urbanization in most countries, Cakmak foresees an unprecedented shift in farming that will put it front-and-center in some of the leading metropolitan areas – vertical indoor farming.Cakmak visualizes a future in which metropolitan areas, such as Los Angeles and New York City, will become major agricultural centers, uniquely positioned in logistical hubs to provide food for millions of people both near and far. He expects this trend to be especially prevalent in Asia, where growing populations, often with agricultural backgrounds, are moving to burgeoning urban centers, sometimes finding lucrative careers but often falling into poverty.“Why can’t some of these people stay in agricultural — in an urban environment –rather than trying to find other jobs and living paycheck to paycheck?” he asks.Over time, most crops will be able to be grown in indoor settings – and all will be prime for the benefits of Pavocoin.“As a global community, we need to be more efficient and drive water consumption down in indoor farming to less than 80% of what it is today,” Cakmak says. “IoT and advanced analytics, which our company provides, will be able to make this possible.“Our IoT blockchain platform enables efficient and effective management of such indoor farms and achieve shorter cycles with high quality and better yield,” he adds. “Data analytics will help us to provide the right recipes to farmers to succeed.”Pavocoin is a social enterprise, performing a public good while trailblazing in a new industry. Growing up in Europe, Cakmak developed an international perspective, while also seeing the impact of farming on diverse populations firsthand.“I believe in rewarding the people who create value as a general principle,” he says. “I believe farmers are creating genuine value for the world and for all of us as the human society, but they are not getting the value that they deserve. It comes naturally to help them to transform their farms and catapult them into the 21st century by providing them better income and a better life while they provide high quality products in exchange.”