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Importance of food traceability and blockchain

The technology that emerged from the eaves of cryptocurrencies continues to gain ground in other spheres and that is why in this article we will pay attention to food traceability and blockchain, a cutting-edge digital registry.

The blockchain provides each of the participants in the supply chain with the ability to share data independently, in a single record shared in a decentralized manner. This guarantees, on the one hand, the immutability of the data, as well as shared management or administration between the participants in the chain.

It is a system that was designed for the use of cryptocurrencies, but has been extended to other areas. Why its boom? Because it is safe, verifiable, and immutable data, that is to say that its content has not been altered, or if it has been, describe what was the reason and by whom.

In addition, and very importantly, the data must be publicly accessible, and not under the control of a single entity that could lose it or disconnect it.

At an international level, the use of artificial intelligence and blockchain strengthens food traceability -fruit and vegetables and all kinds of food- and is a huge help when it comes to exporting products.

According to a 2021 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Wageningen University and Research (WUR), blockchain technology can help improve the transparency and accountability of mitigation activities and adaptation to climate change.

In addition to monitoring greenhouse gas emissions, you can help farmers adapt to climate change by helping track investments and the results of improved management practices. It can also help measure gender-relevant Sustainable Development Goal indicators in adaptation and mitigation activities.

“Blockchain technology can, for example, lay the foundation for a global network with reliable carbon data. Another possible application is that with the help of blockchain you can track exactly what happens to the ‘tree planting surcharge’ you pay when you buy a plane ticket. Or think of blockchain as a way for smallholder farmers in developing countries to apply for crowdfunding or microcredit with a token, a kind of digital voucher,” said WUR’s Lan van Wassenaer.

FAO and PNUD are testing blockchain

The blockchain is being used by the support program to increase climate ambition in land use and agriculture through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and NAPs (SCALA), co-led by FAO and the United Nations Program. United Nations for Development (UNDP). It is applied by digitizing the value chain for agriculture and food systems, as well as tracking sustainability through Key Data Elements (KDE).

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“Blockchain work at SCALA is envisioned by creating a working group with various blockchain service providers in the agriculture and food system value chain, focusing on designing KDEs that represent climate-resilient practices. The aim is to help legislators, food producers and audit agencies to stimulate the adoption of climate-resilient practices registered in the blockchain”, according to Erik van Ingen of FAO.

Furthermore, SCALA aims to engage with the private sector, globally and in its 12 partner countries, not only to increase investments but also to incorporate innovative policies and technologies. The focus of the program is well anchored in the new FAO Strategy for Collaboration with the Private Sector and the organization’s efforts to drive digital agriculture and innovation for sustainable agriculture.

Developments and APPs


There are many technology solutions available on the market, including IBM Food Trust, software that needs a browser and Internet access to run its applications, it also has APIs available to upload and integrate data with your ERP system. This ecosystem of food traceability allows producers, suppliers, manufacturers, retailers and others to join together in the creation of an intelligent system, with secure data and measurable parameters on sustainability.

SAP was not far behind and presented Green Token, basado en tecnologías como token y blockchain, que entrega información en tiempo real sobre la materia prima en toda la cadena de valor. Por ejemplo si un cultivo X está certificado como sustentable, cuál es la huella de carbono a lo largo del proceso y qué porcentaje de desechos se está reciclando en modelos de economía circular, etc. Acá puedes descargar el white paper.

In terms of food and agricultural traceability, the Green Token provides information on the chain of custody, from the origin to the consumer, verifying that it comes from sustainable and ethical sources. It can also operate in other areas such as the metals industry or the origin of plastic waste and the percentage of recycled content in polymers resulting from the circular economy.

n Chile, a digital solution that uses blockchain also emerged, and that deals with tracing the impact of a food product. In addition to the origin, the #GetFair APP also provides the final buyer with information on the carbon footprint and other sustainable factors, how much producers are paid, and specific concepts associated with the purpose of the company, which are displayed in layers of information that they can be a video storytelling, a web, which are obtained by scanning a QR code.

It is a «microservice ecosystem for all parts of the chain to access transparent and reliable information for decision-making based on the impact produced by the products,» said Nicolás Millán, one of its creators, from Colombia.

Blockchain technology can be a great ally for people whose health depends on rigorous control of their diet, such as patients with food allergies or special diets. Those who cannot consume shellfish, gluten, almonds or any product that causes them harm, now have plenty of reasons to blindly trust a restaurant that works under food traceability parameters, and a way to add added value to a kitchen of excellence.

Traceability through blockchain is a mechanism that provides guarantees to combat self-attacks such as the creation of false records, since it constitutes a dissuasive and control element that contributes to providing certainty miles away and in the face of such diverse and globalized markets. of the agri-food industry.

Naturally, in traditional agribusiness there will be some level of resistance to making their records transparent in decentralized systems, but the advantage of working on the basis of principles such as sustainability, transparency and security is a path that a type of consumer today rewards when it comes to choose where to buy, but sooner rather than later it will be a general demand at the market level.

Continuing to work in the dark of unreliable systems is putting on a blindfold and not looking at the world of opportunities that lies ahead and wasting valuable time on innovation and added value.

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