On 25th September the Sicilian Regional Assembly obtained the green light to use blockchain in agriculture for traceability of food products. It was announced by MP for the Italian southern region Jose Marano who had been working on the development of the bill for at least a year.
Sicily is the first Italian region to introduce the technology on a governmental level, while it has already widely been adopted in the private sector by businesses like supermarket chain Carrefour that had already introduced it to track down poultry and citrus fruit production.
It’s undoubtedly been recognized as an essential tool to guarantee transparency and incorruptibility of the data that support the supply chain and Sicily offers the first attempt at such scale to track down products from the farm to the table, to drastically reduce counterfeits and provide originality of products.
The “Development of the blockchain multifunctional information platform for the traceability of food products” was announced on the MP’s Facebook page and will include data on the origin, nature, composition and quality of the product to satisfy and ensure both the producer and the consumer of the good. Access to the platform will be entirely free for the consumer but also the participation to the supply chain will be guaranteed on a free and voluntary basis. Clearly, those producers who will take part in the chain will be favored by consumers searching for quality and originality.
The blockchain use on the supply chain has found more supporters in the last couple of years, since IBM TradeLens and freight company Maersk partnered to create an environment where multiple parties, often competitors, wanted to co-exist and join the digital transformation.
Blockchain technology can provide cost-savings that earlier supply chain technologies simply could not offer by:
- Removing intermediaries. Blockchains synchronize data across the network in a verifiable way, complex contract negotiations that can be executed in a peer-to-peer manner, thus removing the requirement for costly central intermediaries to facilitate this function.
- Improving product tracking. The distributed ledger technology allows constant update of accurate, reliable and immutable data. Sure, the information is uploaded by humans but blockchain has proven resistant to counterfeit for the main reason that it’s immutable and records are irreversible. Therefore people are less likely to record false data.
- Providing better data analytics. The result of all of the above is a more reliable analysis of the supply chain information which could help better manage risk assessments and understand where costs can be reduced.
It’s too soon to quantify the savings that blockchain can bring to the industry but with companies like IBM massively investing in the technology, businesses can rest assured that the related financial, legal and administrative implications will soon disclose some major benefits.