What do you think the Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative, which is a collective of small-scale livestock farmers in Arkansas, have in common with Bitcoin, the infamous digital currency? I need you to be rest assured that it has nothing to do with money laundering.
This is the first food business in the United States to utilize Provenance, a supply chain tracking system which is powered by blockchain tech, which also happens to power Bitcoin. This is really amazing.Provenance has nothing to do with cryptocurrency; it is essentially a digital platform which allows consumers the right to trace the precise history of a chocolate bar or slab of cheese back to the farm from where it was produced
Founded in 2013, the London-based company, which has financial backing from one of the founders of eBay, now provides its services to over 200 clients in the European Union, ranging from winemakers and fishermen to bespoke clothing manufacturers ( Note:they focus mainly on food, but they also cater for other artisans).
Currently with the fleet of computer geeks all over the world, few laypeople have even heard of blockchain technology, much less understand how it works. The most likely link anyone has every heard of block chain technology is Bitcoin. And most stories people have heard is not exactly rosy: it is a favorite of criminals who have master the art of cryptocurrency because you can’t trace Bitcoin transactions through any financial institution; in recent months, the value of the cryptocurrency his soared to such astronomical heights that it is now widely considered the biggest financial bubble of all time.
So what is a blockchain, and what does it have to do with wholesome food companies? It turns out that what makes Bitcoin transactions untraceable is very useful for making consumer products more traceable. Confused? So were we. That’s why we called up Jessi Baker, the PhD computer scientist who founded Provenance in 2013.
A blockchain is essentially a fancy database that is in the commons – no one owns the database, neither is it regulated by any financial institution and no one can change the data once it’s been entered. For small food companies the aim is to demonstrate trace-ability it’s like having a third-party verification, without having to go through an expensive auditing process.
Criminal networks can keep track of payments in private blockchains if they wish to do. But with Provenance and other public blockchains, the objective remains that advertising the information they hold for the sake of accountability and transparency.
“Blockchains have a lot of the characteristics of any conventional database, but they add some special powers. Because they hold data in a way that is immutable, so you don’t need to be worried about anyone changing or duplicating the information – it is literally impossible to do so.Like totally impossible otherwise, there is going to be an alteration which would be detected immediately.
The information found in a blockchain database is put there directly by the people who are involved in the “transaction.” In the case of a chicken leg produced by a member of the Grass Roots co-op, the farmer would have to enter the conditions in which the chickens were raised, their location, the number of birds in the “batch,” and the date they were delivered to the processor for processing. The processor would have to continue or begin by entering the dates and times the birds along with any other important information about their own operations in the processing unit. The process continues down the supply chain from processor to distributor to retailer.
Information about third-party certifications, like USDA Organic or Certified Humane, may also be entered into the blockchain. But unlike these third-party verifications, which are carried out by private inspectors, consumers have easy access to the paper trail – Provenance literally and simply puts it in the palm of your hand
When you pick up that chicken leg at the grocery store to inspect the label, contemplating whether to buy it or not, you should encounter a QR code on the package; click on it and you’ll find all the information contained in the blockchain related to that particular batch of chicken, compiled in a user-friendly format on your smart phone! You can instantly verify where that chicken came from, rather than having to go home and sit behind a computer making research on the company’s label, and attempt to fish out who supplies their chicken, where they were raised, and how the farmer treated them – supply chain information that food companies traditionally keep under wraps.
The idea of Provenance is to guarantee to the consumer that a company is indeed buying all their products from high-quality sources so there won’t be any cause for fear. It is an attempt to take trace-ability to the next level.
Note:All information here were recorded as it the time this articles was written and edited.