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Blockchain tracks animals from birth through the supply chain

A new agri-food platform, NSF Verify, is being developed to identify and digitally record an animal’s journey from birth through the supply chain. The supply chain tracing system holds real-time data in a secure blockchain-enabled database, providing end-to-end traceability.

The consortium behind the project consists of key industry experts and NSF International, a global public health and safety organization and certification body for food industries. “Northern Ireland has very forward-looking farmers who are prioritizing traceability, transparency and accountability. The new technology benefits every aspect of the supply chain, including on-farm cost and labor efficiencies and assisting with frictionless trade”, says Rob Chester, managing director of NSF International’s UK Food Operations.

NSF Verify combines blockchain, virtual intelligence and data analytics. The platform uses a three-factor authentication protocol to track the animal throughout the supply chain digitally. At birth, each animal is registered with a radio-frequency identification (RFID) ear tag and a DNA sample. Geolocation data points - like movement and transfers across boundaries and borders - are gathered throughout the animal’s lifetime and stored in a secure blockchain-enabled database.

The system eliminates the time traditionally required to manually input and process data and greatly reduces the risk of human error, according to NSF International.

NSF initiated a successful three-month pilot phase on both large and small farms to evaluate the user experience on the farm. “NSF Verify will complement Northern Ireland’s global reputation in the cyber arena and will provide a baseline for the future of digital identification and product provenance across global supply chains and into export markets, well beyond the food and agriculture sector”, Chester affirms.

The new consortium includes NSF International, Fujitsu UK, Institute of Global Food Security at Queen’s University, the B4B Telecoms and Samsung Electronics Ireland with the involvement of local Northern Ireland farmers.

Fujitsu is a global technology company and one of the companies that will help bring the NSF Verify platform to market. “Fujitsu’s global operational reach, combined with the specialist knowledge of this consortium, means we are positioned to deliver our vision of a new world-class livestock management platform”, says Frank Dunsmuir, industry lead of customs and international trade at Fujitsu.

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots states that he was supportive of technologies that would assist livestock farmers, ensuring the accuracy and timeliness of animal traceability records.

The statement came after witnessing an on-farm demonstration at the Acton House Farm in Poyntzpass, Northern Ireland. “The demonstration has shown how new technologies could be useful tools, especially for farmers with large numbers of calves to register. I will be watching to see how the potential of such technology develops to reduce bureaucracy and expedite the flow of animals and products in and out of Northern Ireland”, Poots says.

NSF International is currently concluding the pilot phase of its on-farm user evaluation and intends to move into a second stage commercial roll-out.



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