What was traced first in Blockchain, the chicken or the egg?

María Teresa Nieto Galán    27 October, 2022
Photo: Leti Kugler Y / Unsplash

Globalisation has become part of our daily lives in all economic activity areas. Some of those areas where change has been most visible are the agricultural, poultry and livestock sectors. By 2030, the demand for food is expected to grow by 35% due to a growing global population. This prediction will demand greater efficiencies in primary production systems.

To meet this challenge, technology is the best ally they can have. Not only must demand be met, but it must also be done in a way that is sustainable for the planet.

Likewise, in these primary sectors, there is a very clear local base, as each type of product is unique thanks to the type of soil, climate or native varieties that reside in a specific region of the world. In the case of Spain, was one of the first countries in the world to protect these geographical links and the traditions of our foodstuffs. As a result, designations of origin have become a key element in development policies.

Blockchain certifies food quality, safety and authenticity

However, these processes are characterised by the large number of intermediaries involved. With so many participants, it is not uncommon to encounter cases of fraud affecting their chain of trust.

One of them is the case of fraud in half of the crianza wines sold from Valdepeñas where, after extrapolating the real consumption data on the market with those actually declared, it was observed that the resulting sales figure was double that declared to the Designation of Origin organisation.

Another case, related to the poultry sector, is the fraud of organic eggs. In Spain, 11 billion eggs are produced every year and are identified with a code where the first digit represents the type of egg.

This number defines what treatment the hen received and can take different values:

  • Number 3: reared in cages
  • Number 2: reared on the floor of a house.
  • Number 1, free-range hens: reared in poultry houses that have the possibility to go out and peck outside. However, their feed is not certified organic.
  • Number 0, organic production: hens reared in the same way as above, but their feed is organic.

In 2020 Seprona of the Guardia Civil uncovered a fraud operation involving irregular consignments. In one of the cases, 45,000 eggs were sold as organic, when in fact they were of a lower category.

Blockchain technology is necessary for traceability solutions

On multiple occasions we have already talked about the fact that Blockchain technology is very necessary for traceability solutions, as it allows us to control the process, guaranteeing the quality, security and immutability of the information related to the products.

However, what would happen if an egg type 3, from caged hens, already fraudulently labelled as “organic” is certified as such on the blockchain? Blockchain technology would not be sufficient, as it is necessary to prove that the data is valid before recording it on the blockchain.

BlockchAIn of Things

You might ask, what can we do about it? Is it all lost? Have we found an unanswered limitation in this technology? The answer is simple: BlockchAIn of Things.

At Telefóncia Tech we are aware that the technologies we work with are powerful and disruptive in themselves and, if we combine them, we could have the solution to our problems.

In this way, we could find a solution to the case of ecological eggs if we combine Blockchain technology and Artificial Intelligence. The Blockchain part, we would have it clear, we would only have to give traceability to the eggs once they start in the supply chain.

Where would Artificial Intelligence be applied then? One of the many applications of artificial intelligence is image recognition. Thanks to Deep Learning techniques, where the famous neural networks come into play, it is possible to recognise objects in images and even count them.

In this way, you could monitor the hens on the farm with cameras in real time and automatically determine whether they were hens of type 3, 2, 1 or 0. In this way, the information could be certified on the Blockchain before there was any possibility of fraud.

Therefore, the solution to the question of “what was certified first, the egg or the hen?” it would be much simpler than the typical problem, because the first to be certified in Blockchain was the chicken.

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