Dr Ross McKenzie The Startup Business

The Most Valuable Commodity Traded Is Not What You Think

According to some sources, the ten most valuable commodities traded today are Cotton, Wheat, Corn, Sugar, Silver, Gold, Brent Oil, Gold, Natural Gas, Coffee and Crude Oil.

These commodities feed us, clothe us, allow us to make things, to transport us and to conduct commerce all over the world.

But in my opinion there is one commodity that is traded today that is the “big daddy” of all commodities. Not from the value of its trading, but the impact and what it means, in fact for all us, all of life…

Panhi, Maji, Vatten, Wasser, Agua or Water!

Yes water, the stuff that falls from the sky and melts from glaciers high up in the mountains like in the Himalayas.

The stuff that as children, we run outside to play in, or as adults we hide from!

That phenomenon that arrives as monsoons in which communities celebrate with thousand-year-old rituals.

That phenomenon of drought, that when there is no water, can lead to uprisings like in Syria today, or the complete destruction of civilisations as historians believe occurred at Machu Picchu in Peru, or Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

For most of us though, we take water for granted. We live in communities where it is generally abundant in supply.

However, if our whole sense of existence revolved around water, it is likely we would start to look at it very differently.

When I started my career, it was in agricultural science, in which has taken me around the world including the vast and ancient irrigation schemes along the Indus River in Pakistan, where I worked with Asian Development Bank funded projects, to ensure the effective supply of water to local Pakistani farmers to grow food.

So, it was with much enthusiasm, I accepted a recent invitation from Microsoft Australia, in my position as a Brand Ambassador, to visit regional Australia where Microsoft and their partner Advance Computing, is supporting the Kyabram based Waterpool Co-op to transform themselves for the digital age!

You see, the Waterpool Co-op was founded by a group of local farmers back in 2012 to provide a transparent trading platform for water users. Now five years later, they have transformed themselves digitally, or as Peter Lawford, Chairman or the Waterpool Co-op explained to me:

“Think of Waterpool like the stock exchange of water. You can visit our trading room and website to find out more about how water is trading, or if you are ready to trade, then you can sign up and trade with us 24×7”

Now you can imagine to be able to a provide 24×7 service you need to have significant automation and real time data connectivity in place, instead of manual processes and paper! So what Advance Computing did was to provide a Microsoft Azure cloud based solution for the Waterpool Co-Op which has now completely transformed the way farmers and irrigators are managing their businesses.

Tim Humphris a local dairy farmer and Waterpool Co-op member has found that the approach to locking in prices immediately for water as soon as new information comes to hand, has saved him a lot of money. In fact, has given him some degree of comfort as he is more in control.

Waterpool’s transformation in my opinion though, is only just starting…

There is much more to what can be possible now that they have the Azure platform in place. In the future they will be able to do some exciting things for their members like keeping tab on micro weather information, satellite mapping and farm usage records to provide production data – all of which can include historical and predictive data! All of which will lead to better decision making by the farmers and irrigators.

So while the rest of the world are trading all sorts of commodities, spare a thought to what is the most valuable commodity that we all have a stake in, and what the Waterpool Co-op are doing to ensure that this scare resource is being managed as efficiently as possible.