TraceVerified – Electronic Traceability solution for Agriculture

Objective

TraceVerified is the very first transparent information and electronic traceability service in Vietnam. Using barcode and QR code to contain historical information makes access commodity become extremely easy via any smart device.

The objective of this project is to help Vietnamese consumers access to transparent information and the origin of foods on the market.

Food producers input all information relevant to history of products to the database of TraceVerified. After the information has been confirmed as accurate, the products will be labeled traceability stamps (barcode and QR code or significant sign). Consumers can scan the code or read the stamps to get transparent information or the origin of products.

TraceVerified helps farmers and food producers to build credibility and competitiveness in the market. Additionally, consumers can use domestic foods that have clear origin without having to pay any extra fee.

Geographical coverage


TraceVerified delivers services in all provinces in Vietnam. In the first phase of the project, it focuses on fishery and aqua products. The service is delivered to provinces in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam such as: Can Tho, An Giang, Hau Giang, Ca Mau… TraceVerified now serves vegetable farms in Lam Dong province, the largest tropical vegetable cultivation area in Vietnam, and the rural area of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Additionally, TraceVerified is working on dragon fruit supply chain with cooperatives in Binh Thuan province, a province in southern central region of Vietnam. TraceVerified is also spreading to the north central region of Vietnam, especially Ha Tinh for the project of pork chain traceability.

Introduction 

Context

Agriculture and food production provides livelihood for more than 10 million Vietnamese farming households. In 2015, agriculture product export from Vietnam reached US$ 30.14 billions; Vietnam’s domestic food market was US$ 29.5 billions - for a 90 millions population.

 

There are many regulations as well as quality standards that required traceability of food products. For example, the European Commission’s regulation 178/2002/EC requires the establishment of a trace verification system at each production stage. Product information must be recorded and goods have to be labeled correctly to provide data on point of origin tracing. The Anti-Bioterrorism Legislation issued by the US in 2004, states that exporters must send an origin tracing report to the corresponding authority four hours before shipments reach the port. In Vietnam, there are Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), Circular 03/2011/TT- BNNPTNT (providing guidelines for tracing the origin of seafood products and revoking substandard seafood products) and Circular 74/2011/TT-BNNPTNT (providing guidelines for tracing the origin of foods and farm produce and dealing with substandard foods and farm produce). Besides that, unsafe food scandals appear with high frequency, lead to the distrust of consumers about foods.

Though food producers take efforts to build an internal traceability system with lots of paper and documents, they faced with many risks.

·              Large number of paper records, bulky storage.

·              Time-consuming in finding the records.

·              Information management risks (data loss, data integrity issues)

Below is a telling picture of the status quo, showing tracing code on a carton box containing catfish products for export, pictured at the warehouse of a seafood exporter in Can Tho:

When buyers make tracing inquiries, they scan the codes on these carton boxes, send back to the Vietnamese producers, who look up in their document files and send information back to the inquirer. This process can only meet buyer’s tracing requirements at a minimal level, is time consuming and oftentimes unreliable.

On one hand, Vietnamese consumers get little information about the food they get; the amount of trusted, verified information on food products, is even less. On the other, for majority of small and medium scale food producers in Vietnam, even if they follow good production practices, it’s difficult to make broader consumer audience to believe in them, with old-fashioned communication channels and lack of verifiable, third-party validated product information.

Challenges

The main risks to TraceVerified's success are that food producers and distributors do not yet see the value add potentials of implementing traceability systems; they hold the perception that traceability systems are costly and time consuming. Vietnam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development requires food producers to keep paper based tracing documents, however there is not yet any policy or incentive to encourage the adoption of electronic traceability systems.

The majority of producers are now avoided of transparent information. This is a “chronic diseases” of Vietnamese business due to the habit of do-not-want-to-share. Verification of information given by the manufacturer on the system is also a problem. TraceVerified need to make sure that public information is accurate. Besides that, farmers in general hesitate to approach new methods, to change their routine tasks.

Consumers in Vietnam, even the urban middle class consumers, are not aware that they can use simple scanning app on their smart phone to query for essential information on origin and quality of food products they buy from shops and supermarkets. 

Initiative

With a strong belief in the necessity and potential of electronic traceability solutions for the food industry of Viet Nam, in 2011 the Sac Ky Hai Dang Company made a proposal to the Global Competitiveness Facility (GCF) funded by the Danish Government (Danida funding) to start the TraceVerified project, which included electronic traceability, training and consultancy services for fisheries and other agro-product value chains for SME exporters in eight target provinces. As a trademark, “TraceVerified” was registered with the National Office for Intellectual Property of Viet Nam. Within eight months, TraceVerified had launched its new software at a workshop called Electronic Traceability, held in concurrence with the Viet Nam Fisheries International Exhibition (VIETFISH 2012) in Ho Chi Minh City.

In 2016, traceability solutions and services joint stock Company (TraceVerified) was established in order to deliver traceability services to the market. The main activity in TraceVerified is developing software to make the traceability solutions to be easy for farmer-users in inputting data.

Outcome

TraceVerified has built successfully and provided traceability system for 10 supply chains conducted:  shrimp, catfish, blue-fin tuna, rice, tea, sweet potato, frozen vegetables, dragon fruit, fruit syrups, honey, cashew-nut with participation of ten food producers and farmers.

TraceVerified took part in high level national and international events and conferences such as : UN ESCAP regional workshop in Bangkok, Vietnam Corporate Sustainability Forum (VCSF), and showcased at TechFest Vietnam, Innovation Roadshow 2016 by the Ministry of Science and Technology of Vietnam and Embassy of United States to Vietnam.

In July 2015, TraceVerified pitched at SLUSH IMPACT 2015 (Vietnam) and selected a Top 3 projects for a chance to participate the international SLUSH conference November 2015 in Finland:  http://slush.hatch.vn/recap.


See more at: FAO_TraceVerified_2016.pdf