The Data Economics Company and Smallholder Data Services have launched the first deployment of the SDS Platform software to provide visibility, traceability and verification for farmers' regenerative agriculture products from farm-level data and via the Lydion® Engine. As a result, enterprise-level agricultural product buyers from food and clothing manufacturers are able to trace and audit farm products with sufficient certainty to confidently market end products for consumers as "regenerative."
SDS has received a grant from The Rockefeller Foundation grant to support research and development of mobile implementations of the SDS platform and to improve smallholder farming practices including adaptive landscape management with an aim of boosting yields and market access for smallholder farmers in Thailand, Haiti, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic.
"Regenerative agriculture means each farm's contribution to and relationship with its ecosystem is essential," said SDS co-founder Hugh Locke, president of the Smallholder Farmers Alliance. "This initiative sets us on a course to allow brands to break down barriers between buyers and farmers. This is especially useful for regenerative agriculture and its holistic inclusion of not only the ecological and agricultural impacts, but also the human stories of farmers, their families and their communities."
In his capacity as President and co-founder of the Smallholder Farmers Alliance, Locke also served as a virtual panelist for the Climate Challenge Lab series which occurred in parallel with the COP27 Climate Implementation Summit.
"The power of the SDS platform is that it enables an economic model that aligns incentives all the way through from smallholder farmer to large consumer brands and sustainability-conscious consumers," said Jennifer Hinkel, Managing Director and Chief Growth Officer at DECO. "Provable, traceable data about the regenerative nature of farm products has value to consumers and brands, and as a result, SDS creates a positive loop for farmer participation and the adoption of regenerative practices that benefit farm communities and climate impact more broadly. Our key thesis at DECO is that the science of data economics can likewise enable numerous positive economic loops where data generators—in this case, the millions of farmers on small plots that make up about a third of the world's population—can capture the value of that data to a broad economy, opening up new possibilities for their farms and communities as well as for consumer brands."
Smallholder Data Services currently has implemented its technology in Haiti for cotton and Thailand for rubber. SDS helps its customers, including Fortune 500 companies, execute on 2030 sustainability commitments and measure their success through traceability, transparency, and verification.
An April 2021 report by national law firm ArentFox Schiff emphasized the imperative for brands to ensure regenerative standards are met before marketing products with "regenerative" labels: "Fashion brands making claims about regenerative farming have to develop rigorous systems of monitoring and quality assurance far down the supply chain in order to verify that the raw materials they are sourcing and using are, in fact, grown using regenerative techniques and that any advertised environmental benefits are adequately substantiated."
SDS is the first technology company to meet this demand from fashion brands.
"This is an exciting moment for Regenerative Agriculture as more companies and brands around the world are taking steps to act from a whole systems perspective and make bold investments in the future of agroecosystems," said SDS co-founder Tim Tensen, a Partner at TerraGenesis. "This agtech and social innovation opens up the impact of agriculture on the environment, as well as the social impact on families and communities."
"Smallholder agriculture is one of the largest underutilized segments of the global economy," said Smallholder Data Services' Frederic "Mac" McCabe, an experienced sustainability CEO and CFO who is serving as SDS CFO. "SDS work here represents a potential shift in allowing smallholders to use their data to help all of us reach our full potential."
The Lydion® Engine, developed by DECO, is an operating system for decentralized applications. It powers secure, private Lydion Data Vaults that enable people and companies to package and productize their data as valuable digital assets called Lydions. With Lydion-based platforms and applications, users can control, utilize, share, transact, and monetize their Lydions over private networks without losing ownership or control of the underlying datasets.