Seed quality is the backbone of the food supply chain. The illegal seed market poses a threat to the entire world. Food security, sustainable agriculture, and farmers' incomes are set down without the proper regulation and management of the seed value chain. Traceability solutions help in addressing these challenges.
spurious seeds, quality seeds, blockchain solution for spurious seeds, food supply chain, food traceability
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What if I tell you that 50% of the seeds available in the markets are fake!!

As a farmer would you still rely on the same? And as a consumer how do feel about this going forward?

Why is seed quality important? 

In crop production, the seed is the most vital component. It determines crop productivity and improves quality and nutrients. Seed quality is the backbone of the food supply chain; it provides a platform on which the entity runs.  

Seeds are produced by creating a nucleus with the potential to generate breeder seeds, which are then duplicated in vast numbers to form a seed crop. Seed quality must be maintained throughout the journey to achieve the target output under ideal conditions. Illegal seed practices like false labeling, counterfeits, misrepresentation and under-performing seeds have compromised seed quality.

What is seed quality? 

From plant breeders, producers, processors, traders, and distributors seed quality has to be maintained. Good seed quality determines physical and genetic qualities like purity, viability, vigour, and health.  

Purity: Analyses a seed’s physical characteristics, such as size, shape, and appearance. The absence of external substances such as pests and illness is determined by purity. Seeds that are too tiny or have fungal spots on them are deemed impure. 

Viability: A notion in which seeds are examined for signs of life, more specifically, how the seed would develop into a normal seedling (germination) under ideal conditions. 

Vigour: While viability measures the capacity of the plant embryo within the seed to develop into a seedling, Vigour measures the rate and ability of the plant embryo within the seed to develop into a seedling. It not only determines viability but provides the time and ideal conditions for germination. 

Health: This focuses on seed production methods such as the use of natural and chemical-free fertilizers, seed disease resistance, storage, and transportation. 

The illegal seed market poses a threat to the entire world.

Food security, sustainable agriculture and farmers’ incomes are set down without the proper regulation and management of the seed value chain.

Benefits and importance of quality seed 

  • Vital input in crop production. Crop status and outcome depend on the quality of the seed. 
  • Good seed is said to develop and increase yields by 20-25%. 
  • Uniform plant population and uniform maturity provide high productivity with higher market value. 
  • Good seed omits major diseases and insect problems. 
  • Fewer resource inputs of water, fertilizer, and compost are required, following a decrease in cost and enhanced productivity. 

Therefore, the seed market has to be vigilant and regulated to stop spurious and illegal seeds. 

The seed value chain 

Spurious seeds in the markets have a threefold effect.

The farmer’s livelihood, the seed market in the economy, and the sustainable agriculture factor.

Jeopardizing the seed market takes place majorly through counterfeits and illegal seeds.  

The seed market was valued at $58.5 billion in 2020; it is a fast-growing market, which has never-ending needs. To cope with such volumes, productions are being scaled up while maintaining quality. Safety and sustainability have become major tasks. Within the seed market, counterfeits, illegal seeds, mislabeling, tampering, adulterations, and regulatory offenses are the major issues. 

Global challenges like climate change, food security, and pest resistance. Supply chain disruptions have made the seed industry very vulnerable and prone to uncertainties, with the farmers facing the brunt of these problems. Innovative approaches are required to feed the growing population and assure the farmers of a quality yield and consumers of healthy food. This would also combat the challenges that exist in the demand for growing sustainable food. 

Technological intervention! 

The lack of proper packing, labeling, tampering and recording of data has created a loophole for spurious seeds to get into the seed supply chain.  There are a number of stakeholders in the seed supply chain and a trusted collaboration is a dire requirement. Traceability solutions provide end-to-end transparency through its digitalized data recording systems at each seed development process.

Check our 5 step approach to  Food Traceability 

The vast market and its variety of seeds have made it difficult to find and remove fake seeds. Farmers are facing difficulties in determining the quality of seeds because of false labeling, lack of regulation, and no proper standards. With the intervention of technology, stakeholders are being more aware of their seeds through backtracking and transparency throughout the seed manufacturing process. 

Capturing the  seed to shelf forward journey will bring transparency and visibility into the seed supply chain and assure the farmers of a quality seed for agriculture 

  • Geo-tagging of farmer’s land and verifying the breeder seed origin. 
  • Recording harvest details, processes followed, chemical and fertilizers details, batch labeling, transfer details, etc. 
  • Seed processing and grading details are entered along with quality control steps and related certificates. 
  • Tamper-proof packing with proper labeling, certification stamps, and QR Codes decoding the seed’s journey is printed. 
  • Proper storage and logistics maintain adequate temperature and moisture control throughout its journey until it reaches the farmer. 

Technology has seamlessly integrated the seed value chain and provided a configured system for smooth functioning by providing solutions across the supply chain. 

Blockchain technology has emerged as a game-changer in the implementation of end-to-end traceability.

The entry of transactions from the source to consumption in digital ledgers enables authenticity and reliable tracking measures.

The decentralized, shared platform onboards all the stakeholders in the seed supply chain to build mutual trust and transparency.

The immutable ledgers avoid tampering with records and can prove as a single source of truth for validating the origin claims. 

Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University (PJTSAU) a state Agriculture University has partnered with various scientists to research seed breeding, core variety, and hybridizing it without genetic modification.

PJTSAU reached out to TraceX to use Blockchain-powered traceability solutions to trace the origin of seeds and their movement to distributors and retailers. 

India one of the prominent seed exporters was dealing with hoarding, price fluctuations, tampering and a disordered system. The Telangana state was no different; hence TraceX’s Blockchain solutions targeted these issues, 

  • Distribution & Traceability of Foundation Seeds  
  • Track and Trace the production of certified seeds  
  • Post-harvest buy-back from SSC for Quality testing
  • Packing and Labelling with QR code 

How did we solve it? 

  • Collaborating with PJTSAU we started by enrolling farmers from different levels and classes into a single integrated system.  
  • Geo-locations of farmlands along with field inspection and soil quality were done. 
  • PJTSAU shared the package of practice through the TraceX app which was later used in recording and sharing data, such as progress, analysis, date, time and harvest conditions. 
  • Seeds were resorted to germination testing and results were digitally shared thereafter. After the standards were met, it was certified through PJTSAU. 
  • TraceX ensured that every 25kgs bag was sampled and certified, after which it was sealed tamper-proof along with a non-tearable certified tag, which contained a unique QR code.  
  • With the QR Code in place, it was ready for marketing, equipped with traceability and authenticity relating to the seed source, date of harvest, quality, and certification. 

With TraceX’s Blockchain Traceability solution, PJTSAU was able to track and trace the minute details relating to the seed supply chain. 

The seed industry invests heavily in the development of high-quality seeds and hybrid seeds which concentrate on deriving more production from fewer resources and also improving sustainable agriculture. Technologies like Blockchain are a breakthrough in the food value chain, providing multiple facets of benefits across various aspects throughout the supply chain, assuring authenticity and trust, and building a safe and sustainable future. 

Digitization is the key to addressing the seed industry problems and beating the spurious market and getting a competitive edge and meeting regulatory requirements.

Copyright © 2021 Blockchain for Food Safety, Traceability and Supplychain Transparency

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