Smart Farming and Quality Testing: Fool proofing the food value chain

Wouldn’t it be great to know everything about a food item you are about to buy? Wouldn’t it be great to know every bit about the food you’re consuming? Well, that is what real-time food testing at farms and streamlined food chains are all about. Today, food fraud is more a business than a shortcoming in the supply chain.

Food fraud or as the FDA calls it, Economically Motivated Adulteration (EMA), amounts to over $50 billion annually that usually includes dairy products, fisheries, oils, alcoholic beverages, milk, honey, fruit juices, saffron and more. Adulteration in food products is often limited by doing commodity testing, which, at best, is both costly and inept.

Smart Farming  and Quality Testing: Fool proofing the food value chain

Why not Commodity Testing?

Commodity testing has been a go-to method for farmers and organizations to ensure food quality and purity. Commodity testing or inspections are usually done in a warehouse owned by a third party or an organization, which often lacks factors necessary to keep the good in good health.

Albeit, commodity inspectors or testers are often in heavy pressure from the government or the employer firm, there are many other idiosyncrasies of commodity testing that demand a revolutionary method of testing. Here are some of them below:

– Commodity testing only tests a finished product while leaving the raw materials untouched. It is crucial to check each ingredient starting from raw materials all the way through the final product.

– The production unit or the factory where the goods are produced are completely unaware of the do’s and don’ts of the testing methods; this puts the manufacturers in a big quandary about what and what not to modify among many variables of the complex production SOPs. Companies are left to best guess based on the inspection results and often find themselves in a bottleneck when it comes to training employees.

– When the testing processes are confidential, then the instance of a certain produce found ‘unfit’ for consumption, the whole batch of that agri-produce has to be scrapped, incurring a loss to the supplier or manufacturer.

– Commodity testing demands to set up a warehouse to stock the goods, and ship them to the supplier post-testing. Additionally, the warehouse also has to be capable of delivering goods elsewhere and calls for a terrific organization. Many manufacturers aren’t happy with this transfer of accountability, which could be a cumbersome task for the testing party.

– Commodity testing needs a batch of products to be shipped to the testing location and stocked for some time. This usually costs a big chunk of money to the supplier or manufacturer in terms of transportation costs.

In order to ensure maximum quality, there is an acute need for testing systems that could deliver more accurate results while costing farmers a fraction of their profits.

Real-time on-farm testing methods

Smart Farming  and Quality Testing: Fool proofing the food value chain

Real-time testing methods are contemporary testing methods that deliver quick results. They are ideal for testing that demands lightning-fast results. PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) method is one such food analysis method that focuses on a specific DNA sequence, duplicates and analyzes them. It is one of the most common testing methods and is used widely in food analysis.

Along with being quick with results and its portability that enables testing right in the manufacturing plant with the use of a few handy testing devices, PCR method is also more precise than other traditional methods, trustworthy and inexpensive. It is a corroborated testing method that is safe; it uses reliable test kits that are easy to use and is compatible with the universal sample preparation method. PCR testing method is also versatile and hence, it is not limited to only food analysis, it has a widespread application that can yield valuable and cost-effective results.

PCR is undoubtedly one of the most significant advancements in food technology that can not only help increase product quality but also prevent serious disorders caused by consuming morbid, adulterated or stale food.

Enter TraceNext – A boon to food traceability and testing challenges

Today digital solutions are available that enable agri and food businesses. The cloud based technology is backed by the blockchain and AI rendering the value chain actors to utilise smart farming methods using data and intelligence. It is possible to monitor and analyse multiple factors almost on-spot, such as, soil fertility (growing season and in field) remotely.

Another application is measurement of the quality of nutrients in silages, raw materials especially for cattle feed,or processing plants and also on-time Milk testing before collection to chilling plants. Additionally, monitoring crops during their growth is essential to commodities like tea plantations, real-time testing of nutrients,and other trade parameters in leaf tissue supports decisions about harvesting and also aids the commercial decision making.

To conquer challenges faced by manufacturers and suppliers when it comes to food testing and safeguarding an efficient supply chain, TraceNext, brings traceability and AI-based food testing solutions on a unified platform. It guarantees accurate and effortless real-time testing for grains, cereals, oilseeds, spices, tea, milk and animal nutrition.

Besides reliable food testing and making the supply chain efficient, other benefits include :

– It can trace food right to the seed giving food inspectors a thorough insight of the seeding stage. This completed food chain traceability has been a boon to retailers, suppliers as well as consumers.

– A solution that enables us to monitor ethical and sustainable practices during farming, storage and shelving of food products.

– Companies can be sure of aligning their practices and products as per the government norms, saving companies in penalty costs.

– Instant results have been one of the key highlights for agri and food businesses owing to the perishable nature of fresh produce. Businesses can plan to ship right away as test results only take a few minutes to arrive, they can relax as least nutrient loss would occur in this process versus the traditional process where the produce stays in the warehouse for a couple of days.

– Blockchain and AI technology enable fair trade practices in supply chains, with data security. Digital traceability from farm to retail is critical to avoid and for immediate corrective action incase of food recall or contamination.

Conclusion

Traditional food testing methods are expensive, time consuming and hence are slowly becoming obsolete for their slow process. The Farmer suffers as the quality index continues to deteriorate post harvest. There is a huge and growing need for innovative solutions that enable real-time agricultural produce and food testing which will assist in streamlining the supply chains. A unified platform will save companies money in terms of reduced time, low batch rejection risk, slashed costs, to name a few.

About SourceTrace

SourceTrace is a SaaS (Software As A Service) company that focuses on sustainable agriculture and empowerment of farmers.

SourceTrace's advanced technology platform DATAGREEN provides comprehensive solutions to manage all aspects of the agricultural value chain.

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