Animal fiber often originates from pasture-based, low-input production systems in highly sensitive ecosystems. Usually, these regions are characterized by high poverty and the livelihood of rural families depends mostly on livestock production. Alpaca fiber from Peru and Yak hair from Mongolia have only a very small share on the international market but are traded as high-quality products and are considered a luxury garment.
We can observe that consumers increasingly ask for transparent product information and prefer certified and sustainable products. However, there are no eco-labels for animal fiber products available as these production systems are highly complex and farmers have rarely access to certification schemes.
We investigate to what extent the Blockchain Technology (BCT) could be a new approach in quality assurance for ecolabels, and thus, bridging the gap between producers and consumers. In a first step, we develop in a participatory approach with farmers in Peru and Mongolia an operationalized criteria catalogue for sustainability assessment. In a second phase, this catalogue will guide BCT developers in designing a blockchain platform. In a third phase, we evaluate the impact of the new technology on both ends – producers and consumers – to identify possible changes in attitude and perceptions.
The novelty of the project is that BCT is tested in a very specific supply chain and aims to prove a new concept which shall bring more transparency for both producers and consumers. The project will inform not only future efforts that aim to make supply chains more sustainable, but will also inform blockchain developers in designing blockchain projects that are in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.