Blockchain technology and grapes make an odd couple, right? Wrong. Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda), under the ministry of commerce, has integrated a Blockchain solution into its GrapeNet traceability platform. It has been implemented as a hybrid solution combining its traditional web-based SaaS (Software as a Service) model for its stakeholders, augmented by a permissioned, private Blockchain layer for further data security and authentication.
The GrapeNet is a web based certification and traceability software system for monitoring fresh grapes exported from India to the European Union. The Blockchain solution, called Apeda Trust Chain, will help track all the details of the consignment, right down to the location of the vineyards. It will keep a record of all the processes involved which can be traced by international customers at the end of the chain to validate the authenticity and quality of the grapes.
“The introduction of a Blockchain based layer will provide an added layer of comfort to importers on the trustworthiness of data security in Apeda’s systems,” says M Angamuthu, chairman, Apeda. “It also enables future integration of India’s supply chain data with the global supply chain data network of fresh produce, as all these various Blockchain initiatives are likely to get integrated to ensure smooth sharing of data on movement of fresh produce in future. This shall lead to timely information sharing which will result in reduction in potential losses in handling and spoilage.”
Blockchain technology ensures a shared, immutable ledger that facilitates the process of recording transactions and tracking assets in a business network. The technology is ideal for delivering that information because it provides immediate, shared, and completely transparent information stored on a digital ledger that can be accessed only by network members. Blockchain technology is increasingly finding use in banking, financial services, international trade and logistics sectors. Attempts are being made to use Blockchain for traceability solutions in the food supply chain to ensure food safety, especially for residue monitoring, product standardisation, and identify high production and quality areas.
In 2019-20, India exported 1,93,690 metric tonnes of fresh grapes worth Rs 2177 crore. Grape cultivation covers 140,000 hectares with an annual production of 3.4 million metric tonnes, with the major producing states being Maharashtra, Telangana and Karnataka. The Netherlands is the number one destination for Indian grapes, followed by Russia, United Kingdom, Bangla-desh, UAE and Saudi Arabia. The Netherlands is also the most important trade hub for fresh fruits in Europe, and introduction of the Blockchain technology will add a layer of credibility to exports from India.
The Apeda Trust Chain initiative records data such as identification of farmers and vineyards including farm location, lab sampling at the farm level, test reports, pesticide residue levels, harvest data at farm level, procurement at packhouses through farmer lots, Agmark grading of farmer lots at pack houses, export consignment created at pack houses and phytosanitary certificate issues to export consignments. Participants in GrapeNet include over 45,000 farms, 200 pack houses, over 100 exporters besides officials from state governments and Apeda.
Gurugram-based IT solutions provider Logicsoft has designed and developed GrapeNet as well as other traceability systems for Apeda. Apeda’s technical team worked with Logicsoft to implement the Apeda Trust Chain and integrate GrapeNet with it. “While Apeda is currently testing out the Blockchain implementation in the table grapes export supply chain, it has plans to extend this solution for other horticulture products and organic products in the future,” says Sudhanshu, secretary, Apeda. The apex export body also supports such initiatives for agri products promoted by other organisations. Recently, a process was initiated for the export of red banana backed by Blockchain technology by Tirupur-based fruit exporter Green Agro Products in collaboration with MABIF under Nabard.
As a part of its export promotion initiatives, Apeda has implemented certification and traceability systems in the export supply chain for a number of products. Among these are GrapeNet for table grapes, Peanut.Net for peanut products, Tracenet for organic products), Meat.Net for buffalo meat.
These systems have helped Indian producers and exporters to assure importers of the quality practices followed in the supply chains. Blockchain introduction is expected to further enhance the credibility of Apeda’s certification and traceability systems. A market intelligence and trade facilitation portal called AgriExchange and a number of traceability systems have been implemented to help build market access and quality assurance for exporters. Apeda is also exploring building AI based data mining solutions on the large international trade data acquired over the years to build forecasting systems for exports.