This ‘Not So’ Tiny QR Code Solved A Century-Old Problem In Agriculture

This ‘Not So’ Tiny QR Code Solved A Century-Old Problem In Agriculture

For ages, agriculture has grappled with a persistent nemesis: counterfeiting. Farmers have faced a problem with fake products infiltrating the market.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Wednesday, February 21, 2024, 07:23 PM IST
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This ‘Not So’ Tiny QR Code Solved A Century-Old Problem In Agriculture | Representational image

For ages, agriculture has grappled with a persistent nemesis: counterfeiting. Farmers have faced a problem with fake products infiltrating the market. Seeds, fertilizers, equipment, machinery and almost every product have been facing the heat. The fake products have eroded trust, impacted yields and curbed financial stability. But, an insignificant innovation has emerged as a powerful weapon in this ongoing battle. The QR code offers a simple yet effective solution to a complex problem.

The allure of quick profits drives the agricultural counterfeiting industry. 

Three reasons can factor into this rise. Lack of stringent regulations, unawareness among the users, and little to no means of authentication. But how dangerous can it be? Spurious seeds offer lower upfront costs. However, they often deliver dismal yields or harbour hidden diseases. Fake fertilizers can be ineffective or even detrimental to soil health. A FICCI report revealed that 30% of the agri-input products sold are fake. This paints a grim picture of the widespread nature of the problem and its devastating impact on farmers' livelihoods.

Since the pandemic, a black QR code label has been appearing everywhere. It's on flyers, supermarkets, restaurants and even hospitals. They slowly slid into our daily lives, particularly on everyday products sold in stores. QR codes authenticate products using a mobile phone or scanner, simplifying a tedious process of verification into a matter of seconds.

These QR labels became the answer to the authentication of agriculture input products. The technology is simple and non-complicated. Everyone can use it, regardless of their technical knowledge or educational background. This Phygital solution bridges the gap between the physical and technological worlds. 

How does it work?

A unique QR code is embedded into each genuine product, acting as its digital fingerprint. Farmers or authorities can scan this code using readily available smartphones. They can access a secure database containing product information, including origin, manufacturing details, and batch numbers. This instant verification process exposes counterfeits. It empowers farmers to make informed decisions and safeguard their investments.

The rising number of counterfeit machinery used for agriculture has caused countless accidents in India. To tackle the issue, the Karnataka government and the Department of Agriculture have made QR-based anti-counterfeiting technology mandatory for all K-KISAN machinery. The authorities and government officials scan the code to confirm the machinery’s authenticity accessing vital information through the platform. This initiative has curbed the circulation of counterfeits. Acviss has been working alongside the authorities in safeguarding the products using the non-cloneable unique holographic Uniqolabel protecting over 2 billion products and farmers across the country from counterfeits.

Scanning products to verify their genuinity is effective. Unique QR code authentication alone is a powerful tool. But, its strength can be further amplified by integrating it with blockchain technology. Transparency in the supply chain has been buzzing in the market for decades. All options direct towards a single solution: Blockchain. This distributed ledger system provides an immutable record of every transaction linked to a product. Linking the QR code data to a blockchain network creates a transparent, tamper-proof trail. This trail shows the product's journey from source to market. This traceability allows to track and trace each product unit in the supply chain. Fostering trust and optimising production and distribution processes. However, this collaboration gave way to a bigger solution safeguarding the supply chain; DPP.

As we move forward, the concept of a Digital Product Passport and digital twins holds immense potential. Imagine every seed, fertilizer bag and machine with its own unique digital identity! Each physical product would have its digital twin, accessible via the QR code secured on a blockchain network. Authentication streamlines, tracking goes real-time, quality control thrives and waste management becomes efficient. Amazing, as it sounds, this vision needs collective action. The EU's lead in mandating DPPs is a promising start, but the entire ecosystem must unite to unlock its true potential. Let's build this brighter future, together.

Not an Ordinary Code

The tiny QR code was once a barcode on cereal boxes. Now, it's a powerful tool in wiping out counterfeiting. It works not only in agriculture but also in every corner of the world. Its integration with blockchain technology holds the promise of ushering in a new era of transparency and trust. It cannot happen overnight. Governments must take the initial steps to set robust regulations and standards. Technology providers should follow the lead to develop user-friendly, cost-effective solutions. Finally, the farmers must actively adopt and use these technologies, paving the way for a future where trust is restored. 

Since its 2016 launch by Vikas Jain, Acviss has empowered manufacturers and customers to gain crucial product insights, safeguarding supply chains and boosting growth. As a member of ASPA Global, Vikas and Acviss are leading the charge against counterfeiting and market fraud. 

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