Barcodes to track vegetable, fruit exports

Written by Kirtika Suneja | Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 19 2013, 02:12am hrs
Commerce ministry plans measures to monitor quality of products to meet global standards

With most of the developed world following stringent quality standards while importing food products, the commerce ministry is mulling a system to monitor the exports of all fruits and vegetables. The ministry plans to put in place an end-to-end system called HortiNet for monitoring these exports by barcoding them.

The system is a web-based architecture that seeks to integrate all stakeholders, namely the farmers, state government horticulture departments, testing laboratories and exporters. All stakeholders will upload information on HortiNet and farmers who want to export their produce, can register on it. The exported cartons will have barcodes and numbers that will allow traceability back to the farmers, said a commerce ministry official.

Besides, the proposed system will subsume the existing systems like GrapeNet, AnarNet, TraceNet and PeanutNet, which the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Exports Development Authority (Apeda) had earlier set up.

These are internet-based residue traceability software systems used for monitoring the fresh produce exported from India to the European Union and other countries.

They help in monitoring pesticide residue, achieve product standardisation and facilitate tracing back from retail shelves to the farm of the Indian growers, through the various stages of sampling, testing, certification and packing.

While TraceNet is used for facilitating process certification for export of organic products, HortiNet will be the overarching system, comprising information on all fruits and vegetables which the country exports. Currently, India exports almost R3,000 crore of vegetables and R4,000 crore worth of fruits. Apeda wanted the exporters to control farming to meet standards and a protocol was required for that. The system will be up and running in a few months, the official told FE.

As per the official, the system will register all food items and linking food product information to its barcode and the programme is fully electronic starting with registration of food items to their export.