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How blockchain can bolster native food businesses

David Prestipino -

Around 70 bush food practitioners have explored the potential for blockchain technology to help track and sell native foods and grow their businesses.

The inaugural First Nations Native Food Blockchain workshop in Healesville by the RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub, in partnership with Agriculture Victoria and the Federation of Victorian Traditional Owners Corporation (FVTOC), focused on ways Victorian native food businesses can use blockchain to support and uphold Indigenous cultural intellectual property rights for Traditional Owners.

Blockchain technology offered new abilities for data management and governance by enabling decentralised and tamper-resistant storage, enabling new and unique ways to further enable Aboriginal self-determination and data sovereignty for First Nations people within the native foods and botanicals industry.

The technology also provided secure and transparent systems for tracking product authenticity, with the ability for Indigenous bush food enterprises to store and manage traditional knowledge and stories.

For established and budding native food entrepreneurs, the challenges and opportunities are many, as demand grows across the Indigenous food industry, estimated to be worth more than $80 million in 2019-2020, according to the University of Sydney, with the potential to double by 2025.

The Healesville workshop aligned with the objectives of the Traditional Owner Native Food and Botanicals Strategy, developed by FVTOC and the Victorian Government in 2021, which aims to create a strong, authentic, sustainable bushfood sector.

Treaty and First Peoples Minister, Natalie Hutchins, said said the workshop would further ensure the state's Aboriginal native food businesses were equipped with the right skills and technology to thrive, while

"This is a great example of Aboriginal businesses coming together to drive a strong and sustainable native food industry and promote economic development," she said.

Gunditjmara Elder, Professor Richard J Franklin, said blockchain unveiled promising pathways for Aboriginal data sovereignty and community empowerment.

"These are crucial for uplifting our communities and ensuring improved outcomes," he said.

"The possibilities that blockchain holds are very encouraging, particularly within the native food and botanicals industry.

"Technology must be one of the many spearpoints we use in charting toward a tomorrow Australia."

The workshop followed a summit in Perth last week that aimed to further unlock the untapped potential of traditional First Nations knowledge systems and integrate them with modern agricultural technology.

The AgriFutures 2024 evokeAG event was designed to find ways to leverage the mostly untapped pool of First Nations learnings of land management and practices, especially with tech and innovation businesses, to help drive more native food supply and ensure sustainable land and farming management.

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