Agricultural Supply Chain Challenges, What Do We Know, What Next – Can Digitisation Make A Real Difference?

At a macro level, we all know the world population will hit 9 billion plus by 2050, consequently food consumption will increase. In addition, estimates are that around 30% of food produce is lost along the supply chain. In monetary terms that is in excess of USD1Tn as hard as it is to imagine

Jon Mann

Executive Chairman and Financial Sector Advisor

Technical Level: Intermidiate


At a macro level, we all know the world population will hit 9 billion plus by 2050, consequently food consumption will increase. In addition, estimates are that around 30% of food produce is lost along the supply chain. In monetary terms that is in excess of USD1Tn as hard as it is to imagine. Understandably by just trying to keep up with demand, food supply chains are becoming more complex and stressed.

The good news is that digitisation and technology are on hand to help improve supply chain efficiency, growth, systems and mechanics.

The Stakeholders In The Food Chain – Who Are They?

A typical agricultural supply chain will and can comprise of the following participants: farmers, input companies (e.g., seed and fertiliser) retailers, suppliers, processors, finance and leasing companies, people involved with transportation, warehousers and not forgetting consumers. Overtime, more participants have become involved in supply chains, globalisation means ever more cross border arrangements and the constantly changing weather patterns and threat of disease, all make for added levels of intricacy in the farm to fork journey.

Supply Chain Challenges

Hurdles are ever more prevalent in agricultural supply chains, adding to possible trade frictions potentially. Some of the dominant supply chain impediments include:

Hours of demanding manual labour (e.g., in developing countries where the use of automated machinery might be unavailable or the lack of a mechanic being immediately available). As an example, in some remote areas of the world, it is common for a fault with a tractor, to take over a week to repair.

Tracking and traceability

Lack of finance options or financial assistance

The rising cost of energy (making future budgeting plans around transport almost impossible to project)

Logistical hurdles around storage, food waste

External factors – e.g., COVID-19

Failings in product quality (e.g., additives, antibiotics, implants, contamination, pesticides overuse)

Questionable and unethical farming practices

A plethora of disparate and below par systems (automated and manual) being used to transact and record transactions and asset ledgers, from farmer to consumer. This can result in poor record keeping, supply and production delays and questionable product quality

The Consumer Has A Right To Be Better Informed About Their Produce

We live in a world where consumers crave product and service transparency, now to an infinite level where at all possible. Let’s use a chicken as an example. Of course, the supermarket packaging will tell us where the chicken is from but why shouldn’t we all collectively strive for the availability and disclosure of ALL information around the chicken’s lifecycle? It is not always obvious how to use such information, but only by having all the data to hand, can we then go about tackling some of the above-mentioned supply chain challenges.

Some elements of more in-depth information around the chicken could include:

The precise geographical address, location of the chicken farm (facilitating retailer/importer issues around product recall or the sourcing the precise traceability of a disease outbreak)

What additives (if any) may have been added? (From this more clarity around consumer eating trends will emerge)

Who are the farmers, people involved with the faming of the chicken? (In the unlikely event of contamination, this will help detect whether human error may have played a part)

On which precise ships, trains and/or trucks did the chicken travel on? (Such intelligence will help with transparency around transport costs and efficiency)

The list goes on and of course such information might be classified as overkill by many purely from a consumer’s standpoint. One thing is clear though, the current global focus on information/data grab around all and any assets in this day and age is here to stay. So, in the above instance, imagine for a moment how interested the chicken buyer might be, (who consequently also pays for the transport costs) to be able to see and cost up all the separate elements, every single journey a specific truck, train or ship carrying the chicken takes.

Having data around things such as, the type of fuel used, the precise geographical route/precise time taken of a ship or truck’s journey and even being able to monitor the wear and tear of every single component on all modes of transportwill help elements of transport cost and improve such challenges within the supply chain.

There is no reason why such granular pieces of data around the entire cycle of a chicken cannot be made available, in a simple and inexpensive manner for all supply chain stakeholders.

How can digitisation help?

At EyA we have built that which we consider to be one of the world’s most powerful enterprise grade distributed ledgers (DLT). The aim is simple, to better enable users to store and manage their data. EyA’s platform is fast, inexpensive (as compared to other ledgers), more secure, easily scalable and energy efficient. The various elements and components of all assets within the ledger, if required, can be broken down to the nth degree (e.g., each individual component of a tractor or combine harvester engine part).

In addition, EyA’s platform can communicate and be plugged into any other existing (legacy) systems. Only permissioned users will have access to the platform.

So, imagine that all of your data is available on one easy to use platform, and at the click of a finger, courtesy of EyA’s ground-breaking technology, every single particle/component of each and every asset on the platform/ledger is able to communicate with each other in a non-linear manner.

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