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New Normal, Digital Transformation, Industry 4.0

Trust | Transparency | Traceability

Case Study

Traceability with ARS Tandur, PJTSAU

03  December  2021

Indian working rice field

TRST01(Trust O One) ‘OriginTrace’ helps optimize the food supply chain. It provides information on the origins of  food products, and it is essential to ensure customer loyalty and confidence. The underlying Blockchain technology could make any fruit or vegetable safe to buy, like those grown locally from a nearby farm. ‘Origin Trace’ enables consumers to verify their product’s journey, tracing it from farm to table.

This shows consumers the area or geo-location where the product is harvested, detailed information on who produced it. As the information recorded on the blockchain is immutable, the information supplied and displayed is reliable and tamperproof.

Taking cue from Innovative Blockchain Food Traceability, TRST01 further translated the learning to complete value chain mapping for Seed. TRST01 Seed traceability starts from the Nucleus seed and maps through the Certified Seed. Each of the steps in the value chain gets mapped, the relevant information captured, and data stored in a distributed ledger or Blockchain.

Use-Case Implementation Seed Traceability at ARS PJTSAU

Problem Statement

An effective mechanism to stop counterfeit in the Seed supply chain

Due to their exorbitant prices, most Indian farmers do not have access to high-quality seeds. And beyond this, another challenge is the availability of spurious seeds. The fact is 60 to 65% of sources used in the country are unlabelled. In India, around 35% of seeds are from cultivated crops, saved by the farmer. Only 45% of seeds go through the ICAR system, and the balance of 55% comes from private companies and doesn’t go through any certification process. Therefore, a fool-proof traceability and certification system is the need of the hour. According to reports, agricultural productivity could increase by 25% if such a system gets introduced.

Solution: TRST01 Blockchain Solution ensures mapping the complete value chain from Nucleus Seed to Certified seed and enables full Traceability for pigeon peas (Red Gram) from source through final produce. 

Business Impact: Change of status like verification sample generated to date, GPS parameters, sample comparison, Lab analysis, approvals, packing, expiry date, logistics and dealers secured with a 256 hash value in a selected public blockchain platform. Documents, images, audio and video files are stored in the local storage, and a link to the stored location is converted into a hash value to secure it in the blockchain. Samples that do not meet the standard parameters are rejected for a reason. All the details about the issuer, timestamp, inspection details of all stages and certificate details become immutable, and the provenance is established for any future reference.

Pigeon Pea field Tandur

Agricultural production is part of a long chain of activities that starts from the seeding (or even earlier) and stretches to the consumer. Crops go through several operations, transactions, or shipments from the seed generation to the consumer. This is even more complicated when organic certifications or GI tags are part of the integrated value chain. This further opens up the need and opportunity at each step for a chance/ possibility to trace the crop either upstream or downstream. 

The importance of having seed traceability are
  • Tracking the origin of seed and ensuring the truth-label in seed and in the seed supply chain.
  • Protecting significant menace in seed counterfeits
  • Protecting farmers lifetime efforts and valuables
  • Tracking the nutritional value of food and claims on products
  • Creating value for farmers with Source and Origin traceability
  • Protecting biodiversity
  • Creating a social impact transformation for agriculture community
  • Ease on insurance claims and settlement process
  • Abiding  regulatory compliances 

Role of Organic Production: Apart from the quality of seeds, the quality of the soil plays an essential role in producing organic food. Genuinely organic food products must not be grown on soil with traces of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. For this to happen, a farmer should remediate ground thoroughly. In many cases, non-organic farming may have taken place on a piece of land. It may take up to 3 years for contaminants to dissipate completely. During this time, the produce coming out of this land in the first year will not be completely organic. In the second or third year, the organic value of the product starts to increase. Natural fertilizers like Neem seeds or natural compost are used in this process.

Role of Certifications: Certification plays a vital role during these processes. An authorized certification agency plays a pivotal role in the transparency of information, which considers everything from the quality of seeds and organic production to the quality of the end product that reaches customers.

Crop getting ready

APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Foods Products Export Development Authority) has made Traceability mandatory for food products to be certified as 100% organic. This includes the Traceability of seeds introduced at the inception stage and verification of all processes and practices used during the food production cycle. Once the product becomes 100% organic, it commands far better prices, and the farmer starts realizing returns at this stage. Traceability is beginning to play a significant role in the procurement of food products in the country.

Role of GI: GI tag is a sign used on products with a specific geographical origin and possesses origin-based qualities and reputation in the region. About 360 GI (Geographical Indication-tagged products in India, most of which fall in the food category. GI-tagged products have competitive advantages, which is not leveraged enough. 

One of the main reasons is the lack of trust in the origin and authenticity of the product, which blockchain-enabled- Traceability can address. Blockchain will also strengthen the case to the access of Geographical Indicator in the international arena. 

Blockchain technology could help provide a “Watchdog mechanism” for robust monitoring with a multi-user interface, thereby recording certifications, 

Team at Agri Conference
validating compliances for prevention of counterfeits and establishing the genuineness of products with the help of monitoring agencies or authority.
Blockchain further simplifies technology adoption globally accessible with the ease of use of technology. Blockchain technology is a natural fit for Geographical Indications (GIs) because GIs are grounded in the values of provenance, authenticity, and quality. The blockchain application for GIs could also bring value for GIs by improving communication with consumers and facilitating the support of sustainability goals. There are specific features of blockchain technology that may be useful in the protection and enforcement of GI rights
  • Proving the origin of GI products- blockchain can prove that a GI product originates from the place it claims it’s distinct reputational, quality, or characteristic, which is the GI-designated territory. Blockchain can also be used to convey and confirm product characteristics to consumers, thereby informing product choices.
  • Blockchain technologies can verify compliance with GI product specifications and complement existing efforts to build transparency along GI supply chains.
  • Addressing GI counterfeits- blockchain technologies may be helpful in infringement claims to provide proof of ownership and authenticity of products
TRST01 Traceability Product Launch
Benefits for Consumers/Producers:
Consumers can scan the QR code to know the GI status and source of the Agri product right up to the farm level. This makes it easier for them to pick the original variety of products. Establishing blockchain-enabled Traceability for authentic products will help consumers get value for money and curb counterfeit and mislabelling. Also, from a producer perspective, the AUTHENTICITY and SOURCE OF ORIGIN are essential for GI-tagged products to ensure the correct value for the product. Once the farmers registered under the GI initiative, they will get the produce tagged immediately. The actual beneficiaries will undoubtedly be the farmers, who will improve their income. The entire process and the architecture will record/capture Critical Data Points logged by different stakeholders, helping to know the location of the farm, the batch number, processing unit, packaging unit, shipping information and the complete timeline about the journey from farm to the retail shelf. 
Blockchain technology has manifold advantages. Since all the data is recorded on a distributed ledger system, it becomes tamperproof. The immutability of the data creates absolute transparency and accountability. Verification becomes easy at every level, e.g., regulators, quality certification agencies, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers. It’s not just about validation. These initiatives can build brand value for organic food companies. It is a significant shot in the arm for the trust economy, where agricultural companies can convincingly prove their products’ health and nutrition benefits.
The Agri and food industry is one area in which blockchain traceability has the great potential to have an immediate impact. Blockchain stands to reduce these unfortunate (recalls) and preventable(quality) incidents in three ways: 
• By providing consumers with transparency on the products  do match with the ingredients as mentioned on the label 
• By capturing any event in which the product may be tampered with at any point in the supply chain 
• by enabling retailers to pull potentially harmful samples or batches from shelves given any incident

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