Genetically modified (GM) cotton was first introduced into cultivation in the mid-1990s and has since occupied an ever-increasing share of global cotton production, being characterized as the most commercially successful GM cultivation in the world. Given the risks of globalization of the agri-food market and the negative economic impact that the introduction of GM products on European cotton competitiveness, it is necessary to have a sound process of confirmation of origin and quality throughout the value chain. In this context, CottonTrack aims to support and modernize existing field identification and tracking capabilities of cotton products across the entire supply chain, so that the stakeholders and the end consumer can immediately identify products and boost their confidence in the manufacturing sector.

Technology Description

CottonTrack aims to develop an electronic access system for data entry, management and governance that will provide all the necessary information from the field and the producer, to the ginning plant, the intermediate stages to the final product, and its handling in the supply chain. It will consist of a management environment where each stakeholder will be able to enter relevant production certifications and metadata such as production date, release date, coding, barcode etc and other elements that contribute to traceability throughout the logistics value chain.

All involved, from the producer to the consumer, will be able to trace and display the features of a product through special interfaces developed for web and mobile devices. The use of Blockchain technology ensures data integrity and can therefore enhance confidence in the value of cotton products and thus their competitive advantage, as well as facilitate the creation of a “Quality Certification” system for cotton origins and cultivation practices.

Main advantages

  • The international value chains of cotton as well as many other agri-food value chains require process of confirmation of origin and quality
  • Increased transparency in the agri-food supply chains (origin and metadata of the product)
  • Immediate identification and tracking capabilities of cotton products for all stakeholders in the value chain  through special interfaces (web and mobile)

Stage of development

The design and development of the blockchain technology platform will be based on the existing relevant know-how and research results of CERTH/ITI such as: (a) Blockchain-as-a-Service applications (BaaS), demonstrating extensive experience in developing smart contracts and decentralized apps (dApps) for privacy preserving  logging and auditing mechanisms, identity management and data handling and (b) various blockchain applications in research projects in Agrifood, Energy, Health and other sectors.

Challenge and needs

  • To address data integrity and security, which can be achieved by leveraging decentralized ledger technologies such as blockchains
  • To integrate decentralised applications and ensure that data integrity is preserved by blockchain mechanisms.
  • To address critical programmatic integration of metadata and IoT data at various stages as it has not yet been incorporated because technical feasibility issues
  • For all the above issues, a short pilot project is needed in close cooperation with an interested business partner from the cotton processing value chain.

Intellectual property

Α prior art search is under development

Potential markets and targets

The suggested concept can be implemented to many other and more generalized Blockchain based Supply Chain Traceability solutions for the wider Agro-Bioeconomy sector. Towards this end, more and more collaborations are emerging, such as Barilla2, an Italian pasta maker, and Walmart's US chain with IBM3 to address transparency and traceability in the agri-food production and supply cycle4. Provenance5 also works to enable businesses to build trust in their products and supply chains using mobile, blockchain and open data supported software. This ensures food safety and also contributes to reducing food fraud and increasing brand reputation.

Potential partners

The CottonTrack project would be looking for partners in the Cotton processing value chain. Special focus would be on the stakeholders who are active and working alongside producers and further actors of the supply chain. Their unique positioning can facilitate access to both producers and cotton processors, which can in turn provide significant value of the proposed technological solution, in terms of quality of raw material as well as supporting them to increase their profitability based on the resulting quality certifications of cotton origins and cultivation practices.

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