FNQ irrigators tap into new digital water trading

Grain Central, May 21, 2020

A PILOT research project promises to be a game-changer for Far North Queensland (FNQ) irrigators, allowing them to tap into a new water markets and trading platform using the latest digital blockchain technology.

The Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) collaboration sees blockchain and digital technology experts Civic Ledger working to deliver the “Improving water markets and trading through new digital technologies” pilot research project over the next six months.

They will be working with researchers and industry representatives from the Queensland Department of Natural Resources Mines and Energy, SunWater, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) Blockchain Innovation Hub, Griffith University and FNQ growers.

The CRCNA’s chief executive officer Jed Matz said the pilot research project would involve the participation of irrigators across the Atherton Tablelands in a demonstration of digital blockchain technology.

“The project team will work with stakeholders including irrigators to help them understand how blockchain and smart contracts work and how they may help them save money and improve their decision-making by allowing them to access near-real-time water trading information,” he said.

“We hope through accessing and using the technology platform, irrigators will provide feedback to help improve the technology and the adoption of Civic Ledger’s Water Ledger platform.”

Civic Ledger CEO and co-founder, Katrina Donaghy, said she hoped the pilot research project would be a step closer to the formation of a public register that held all water trading data in one place to build public confidence and enhance transparency across the industry.

“The Water Ledger platform will completely transform the way irrigators trade temporary water allocations. A catalyst to driving innovation across water markets is to remove unnecessary complexities in how water allocations are traded. This means simplifying the process and providing greater clarity to stakeholders,” she said.

“The pilot project will also provide essential data to inform trading optimisation for the growing northern Australia agriculture industry as a whole.

“This data will offer valuable feedback for further development of the water trading platform so it can be rolled out to more water supply schemes simplifying the operating rules based on local conditions.”

Ms Donaghy said the COVID19 crisis had created some challenges for the project team as much relied on the participation of irrigators to help develop the platform.

“We’re working closely with FNQ Growers to establish ways to work with irrigators in the Atherton Tablelands during Covid-19 restrictions. We are planning on holding virtual events and training opportunities to demonstrate the Water Ledger platform and provide remote access and support for irrigators to use the virtual trading simulator to show trading of temporary water allocations.”

Civic Ledger is applying their Water Ledger platform to process historical temporary water allocation trading data already held by Sunwater.

The trading platform includes self-executing smart contracts based on the operating rules established for the Mareeba-Dimbulah Water Supply Scheme with quick turnarounds.

Irrigators will be able to trade temporary water allocations almost instantaneously; this is a significant improvement to current trades which can take up to days or weeks to execute.

FNQ Growers chairman, Joe Moro, said he believed the initiative would put the power back in the hands of local irrigators who would be better able to control their ability to trade temporary water allocations as required.

“I’m very excited at the opportunity this gives our growers and look forward to seeing results over the coming months,” he said.

Source: Civic Ledger




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