In-Depth Analysis: Blockchain Application in Agricultural Products Traceability

Knowing what you are buying has been problematic for as long as people have been trading along the supply chain. Blockchain is an effective way to balance the need for confidentiality with the need for transparency. A blockchain-based supply chain should result in food that is safe and traceable while reducing waste and creating economic benefits for all of the stakeholders in the supply chain. Of particular benefit to the agricultural sector are lower costs and added value.

As we all know, blockchain technology is a combination of distributed storage, point-to-point transmission, consensus mechanism, encryption algorithm, data block. The renowned Economist magazine have been mentioned: ‘Blockchain allows people to collaborate with each other without a neutral central authority, without mutual trust.’ In short, blockchain is a machine that creates trust. At present, blockchain has extended from Bitcoin applications to all areas of the economy and society. In recent years, food safety problems, represented by agricultural products, are not uncommon, and people are full of worries.

In theory, agricultural products in the market before sale will go through the relevant testing, only meet the standards can be sold, so its basic safety can be guarantee, but obviously things going wrong. Every time when we read newspaper, start computer, or browse a report on our cell phones, food safety issues hit our already fragile nerves.

Agricultural products traceability has been a popular topic in the field of blockchain technology.

So, how will blockchain be positioned in agricultural products traceability, and what role will it play?

Under the current running system, centralized management institutions occupy an absolutely dominant position. With network enlarging, central servers will not only spend higher costs because of infrastructure and maintenance, but more importantly, the transaction data of many subjects in the system is nor transparent, this will lead to some problems as followings.

First, it is difficult for each subjects to accurately understand the real-time condition, and the collaboration efficiency because of information stumble. Second, thanks to the bystander effect, everyone tends to attribute problems to other people when potential problems emerging. They have no incentive to correct; Third, as disputes arising, the identification of the relevant person accountability is often time-consuming and laborious.

In the traditional traceability system, the ledger information is mainly recorded and stored by market participants, which is approximately regarded as an information isolated island. In this mode, maintaining ledger has become a key issue. Enterprise, distributor, or other relevant personnel in the circulation chain.

The ledger owner can tamper with the records as he wants once the account information against him, or fabricate directly afterwards. Therefore, with enterprise market expanding, it is have further urgent for intelligent efficiency and anti-counterfeiting traceability capacity.

Blockchain, as a technology with decentralization ideal, the greatest charm is that its data is open and transparent to all parties in the process of transaction, thus forming a complete and smooth information flow along the chain. Because of block-chain unique characteristics, its data can not be tampered with and the timestamp proved, it is easy to trace transactions.

Agricultural products platform now, its supply chain has the extremely complex production transportation processing flow.

As mentioned above, the traditional traceability may a certain effect, but its cost is relatively too high, and the data is easy to falsify. However, the blockchain technology not only effectively reduces the cost of food inspection, more importantly, but also can achieve trust sharing among institutions.

The information of raw material process, production process, circulation process and marketing process are integrated into the blockchain, so as to achieve the original products whole process “one thing one code”.

Any new technology will face a variety of problems at the beginning of its birth.

For the “Blockchain+Agricultural Products Traceability”, there are also many landing challenges.

First, users are not fully acceptance of blockchain, causing many cognitive differences. For enterprise users with no technical experience, it is natural to think that the private key may be similar to the identity card or business license. In fact, once the private key lost, there is no way to do anything with the assets of the account. At the same time, if the data upload standard remain unchangeable, it will also bring trouble to the general users.

In addition, the false data is almost the biggest pain point in all blockchain traceability scenarios, which can only guarantee uploaded data not be tampered with, but can not judge whether data itself true or false. In this regard, blockchain can only significantly increase the cost of counterfeiting, this is bound to rely on strategy and technology to use at the same time.

Third, market also have concerns about user privacy and transaction confidentiality.

As we know, as a decentralized ledger, each node has blockchain account all information, enterprises are not willing to put all data and transactions into public. The bottom transaction data is stored through encryption and only visible to the enterprise users themselves. The upper application ensures privacy security through strict authority control.

Now, the market for blockchain application landing expectations are too urgent, and want it to solve all the problems in one step, but this is obviously more difficult.

I’ve been saying that blockchain has a continuous relationship with existing technology, that it’s just a step forward in solving the trust problem, and its real status should be a strong technical underpinning.


Creating trust, reducing costs, and improving efficiency are significant advantages of blockchain technology. Now the most attractive area of blockchain is the commercial landing problem. “Blockchain + Agricultural Products Traceability” is a very good entry point, food safety is also one of the most concerned at this stage.

Although the current business model is still full of uncertainties, there is an urgent need and technical feasibility to apply blockchain in agricultural products traceability. Once landing successfully, it will wittiness a new round of booming.

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