Imagine finding the origin of a packed food product that you just purchased. Yes, you would probably look around the product labelling and find the manufacturer. But what about finding where the fruit/vegetable came from, the farm it cultivated, or the supplier who carried out the logistics? Suddenly you are in a pickle.
The food passes on from the farmers to the manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and consumers, and on the other hand, the cash flow takes place the other way around. This complexity of the food supply chain becomes a real predicament when it comes to ensuring food safety and food recalls. TraceFood, a platform that facilitates seamless and effective management of the food supply chain with inventive Blockchain solutions, is on a mission to ensure traceability of food products in the fresh produce industry. In the process, TraceFood (from the house of Coimbatore-based Shamla Tech) enables farmers to sell the products to the manufacturers directly among a lot of other exciting features. CIO Insider interviews Balaji A, Shamla Tech’s CEO to further explore the story of TraceFood.
In conversation with Balaji A, CEO, Shamla Tech
Blockchain has become a potentially transformative force across multiple aspects of public and private organizations. Although, it is still in its infancy. What’s the inspiration behind TraceFood?
The inspiration behind starting TraceFood was simple but overlooked fact that when it comes to the food supply chain, both the producer and the consumer are consuming poison. We wanted to transform this drastic scenario. We are determined to make sure that the consumers are well acquainted with the source of their food and how it is cultivated and grown/raised. Blockchain is an ideal fit in order to ensure this. Thanks to the traceability of Blockchain and immutability property, we are able to trace back any product to its origins. Needless to say, this is a boon to all the
stakeholders of the food supply chain. While it helps in making sure that the farmers/growers get maximum price for their products, consumers get higher quality products.
How is TraceFood helping the food supply chain market transit to the world of Block-chain? Where are you positioned in the industry and what is your USP?
The traceability and in turn transparency are important to ensure safety, sustainability and ethical production in the agricultural/food value chain. For instance, with food traceability in place, loss-es can be minimized in case of an outbreak. TraceFood ensures this much needed transparency across the food supply chain with the help of Blockchain, which helps the stakeholders verify each other’s transactions, making it a trusted ecosystem.
To put this in perspective, our country’s exports of agricultural & processed food products were pegged at $38.49 billion in 2019. The government aims to make it $60 billion by 2022, according to government data. This spike in exports implicates the potential to adopt traceability technology. According to further reports, the traceability market indeed was worth $10 billion in 2017 and is projected to more than double to hit $22 billion by 2025. This is exactly where we come in.
We excel in providing Blockchain-based supply chain solutions with Global GS1 Standards to large enterprises as well as customized solutions to meet the local standard protocol for SMEs – across all sectors of the food industry & not restricted to a particular segment (for instance, exotic foods segment). This includes real-time ERP integration with TraceFood, PTI labeling and IoT sensors. Additionally, our payment gateway system accepts both crypto and fiat currency. Above all, our plat-form is highly scalable in terms of not only traceability, but also inventory management.
Do you add more value by integrating Blockchain with other technologies? Tell us about the underlying technology frameworks of your platform. How would you describe your security propositions?
As we currently use Hyperledger Besu and blockapps STRATO as Blockchain base for our offering, we are also providing GS1 and BRCGS integrations for tracking standardization. We also assure real-time ERP integration so that the businesses that have an ERP solution in place and can onboard with us quickly. To ensure data protection, we follow compliances as per GDPR and security standardization as per Ethereum Enterprise Alliance.
We are currently testing AI for weather
forecasting, crop yield prediction and crop cycle analysis across various scenarios with participation from the Government of India.
How has been the impact of your intervention in the food supply chain market? Could you tell us an inspiring customer story?
We recently got incubated in India’s biggest Block-chain program, the STPI Apiary, which is a Centre of Excellence in Blockchain Technology setup in collabo-ration with MeitY, STPI, Government of Haryana, Pad-up Venture Private Limited, IBM, Intel, GBA, J.C Bose University, and FITT. This is an initiative to identify and evaluate promising startups in the field of Block-chain Technology that will be hosted in the STPI Gurugram Incubation Facility.
We have also started working on a POC along with a few of the Southeast Asian countries to provide food traceability solutions for different agricultural products which will be integrated with a marketplace. It will enable people to buy fresh products online and know the products’ origin by clicking a button.
For our clients in the UAE, we provide Traceability solutions for dates and palm oil supplychain. In the case of dates supply, the quality of the products cannot be verified completely as the vendors mix up different varieties of dates to increase the weight of the pack-age. On the other hand, when palm oil is purchased using the mass balance principle, certified palm oil can be mixed with raw material coming from other sources at the mill or storage facilities. The amount of raw material sourced by us is verified using accurate accounting helps us receive unadulterated and certified palm oil. The raw material batches do not wander by themselves; instead, they are physically monitored throughout their journey from the plantation to the customer. All phases of the supply chain leave an imprint, as they are all documented and audited. Segregated material, on the other hand, is not in physical contact with other raw materials at any phase of the supply chain.
What further innovation do you plan to include in your Blockchain solution offerings?
Currently, our delivery model is SaaS-based for private organizations and on-premise deployment model for Government bodies. We are currently working to-wards launching our own Agriculture, Meat and Sea-food (AMS) ERP platform which will be integrated with TraceFood to facilitate production and transportation management with point of sale. In addition, we are also looking into the feasibility of implementing a digital container shipping association (DCSA) API for container tracking.