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Breadtrail: from farm to fork

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BreadTrail, an app created by Darien Jardine, Nirvan Sharma and Reshawn Ramjattan, makes introducing reliable and incorruptible traceability to the supply chain secure and scalable while providing benefits to everyone involved from farmer to customer.

As the agricultural economy in the Caribbean is in decline, the farmers that make up an essential component of most of the Caribbean’s employment may suffer. In the agricultural sector, the farmer’s produce moves through supply chains before it is finally ready for consumption. Tracking fresh produce through the supply chain is invaluable to customers and food companies. While several traceability initiatives from the FAO and IICA exist, adoption is still limited.

The FAO provides guidelines and processes for the implementation and adoption of food traceability systems. What is notably lacking is the recommendation of an ICT-based system to provide the immutability of transactions. Rather than going through the complicated process of trying to create a method of traceability that can be both trustworthy and secure from scratch, we decided to build off the backbone of blockchain technology, which has already proven capable of meeting these needs.

BreadTrail seeks to harness the decentralised, secure and validity characteristics of blockchain technology to improve the traceability of agriculture-based products. Developed as an open-source project, BreadTrail comprises a mobile app compatible with Android and iOS, and a backend system that uses the blockchain to provide immutable and transparent farm-to-fork traceability for everyone in the supply chain from farmer to consumer. Making BreadTrail open source ensures that any interested person can use, contribute to or modify BreadTrail.

How BreadTrail works

To appreciate the value and applicability of BreadTrail, we use the example of tracing banana through a common value-added supply chain in the Caribbean. First, farmers use the app to record details such as the cultivation process, additives such as fertilisers and pesticides, or methods of harvesting the banana. After harvesting, the bananas are transported to a warehouse and processing facility where the name, location and time of arrival are recorded and stored in the blockchain.

Using the blockchain facilitates security, trustworthiness and immutability of the information recorded. In addition to the arrival information, BreadTrail records the techniques used to process the banana. For example, BreadTrails records the precautionary methods to protect the skin of the fruit such as wrapping or using polythene bags. In the next stage of the supply chain, the bananas are exported to customers or companies. Upon delivery, if the banana is contaminated or a consumer wishes to see the path of the banana, they can scan the identification code of the batch to see the product’s trail through the supply chain. This entire process from start to finish would be fully documented using the blockchain that interfaces with an app that provides customers or companies with a suitable platform to view this path from the farm to fork.

BreadTrail and value chain interaction

To further contextualise how BreadTrail works, the illustration highlights the relationship between BreadTrail and a typical value chain of export-focused agricultural-products. The illustration highlights the screens that record information at the farm, during processing, during transportation and at the final market or client, such as a restaurant. BreadTrail allows clients in a market or restaurant to see the full set of ‘bread trails’, i.e. the intermediary steps of a product. The clients view the product bread trails by using the mobile app to scan a unique product barcode which allows them to trace the end product’s ingredients back to the farms from where they came.

BreadTrail makes introducing reliable and incorruptible traceability to the supply chain secure and scalable while providing benefits to everyone involved from farmer to customer. BreadTrail currently focuses on agro-based agricultural products. The inclusion of livestock and fisheries are future developments of the system based on the adoption of the platform. The authors developed BreadTrail at a hackathon organised by ITU/WSIS/FAO jointly with the AgriNeTT Research group of The University of the West Indies (http://sta.uwi.edu/agrinett).

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