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Blockchain technology to end counterfeits, fakes — Ndemo


Imagine being able to trace where the fish you just took for lunch was fished. Whether its organic or not and for how long it has been in the market before landing on your plate.

That is exactly what Kenya’s Task-force on Blockchain Technology wants to achieve before end of the year according to its chairman Bitange Ndemo.

“Thanks to Blockchain technology, you will be able to scan the Quick Response code of the product and know everything about what you have bought through your smartphone,” Ndemo said in an interview with the Star.

The scan will expose full and complete history of foods from farm to fork.

He said they are working with global technology firm IBM to roll out the technology in order to improve businesses in the country by streamlining the supply chain.

Blockchain is a digital database that helps to identify and track digital transactions and sharing the information across a distributed network of computers.

Because each party keeps a record of every change made to the digital database, it can’t be tampered with after the information is submitted. The technology will facilitate the tracing of parties involved in the mass production and distribution of food.

TRANSPARENCY

For consumers, the Blockchain offers the transparency and openness needed to reassure them that the food they eat is exactly what the label says it is.

On the other hand, food producers will be able to immediately identify any attempts to tamper with the food item as it moves through the supply chain and prevent it from reaching the retailer.

This means that if implemented, the technology will help mitigate increasing cases of food contamination witnessed in the last couple of months.

This includes knowing the origin of the maize, milk and meat with aflatoxin to telling exactly who is behind the now famous sugar with mercury and copper.

Retailers on their end will use the technology to identify and remove substandard items that somehow made their ways to the shelves hence eliminating the need for costly batch recalls.

DATA AVAILABILITY

Director of crops at Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation Lusike Wasilwa has however said that the innovation is of no use if there is no data available to be used.

“Blockchain will be as good as the information available,” Wasilwa said.

She questioned the absence of data on different food products, pesticides and other chemicals certified by Kenya Bureau of Standards as fit for use.

Currently, French supermarket chain Carrefour- South Africa branch is implementing the technology on the chicken product in its shelves.

The data chain for the Carrefour test involves the hatchery, producer,and the processor who feed information to blockchain database that is later passed on to the consumer.

Some of the unique information viewed by the consumer after the scan includes, date of birth of the chicken, its hatchery name and departure date from the hatchery.

Others are its qualities as GMO free, departure date to slaughterhouse, packaging and labeling location, product use by date among others.

Also carrying out a pilot project is the Malawi government which seeks to trace the exact origins of their tea: where and how it was made, and whether organic soil was used in its planting.

With such emerging technologies finding their way into the country, Ndemo said that the best thing the country can do is to be among the early adopters and take the advantage of being the first to solve problems.



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