Indian software company ByteAlly has partnered with Feed the Future Bangladesh Aquaculture and Nutrition Activity (BANA) to begin trialing a fish-focused blockchain food traceability program in Bangladesh.
Feed the Future is part of the U.S. Government’s hunger and food security initiative, working with countries all around the world to address poverty, hunger, and malnutrition. The majority of Bangladesh’s rural population work in fisheries and the U.S. Government has prioritized aquaculture value chains. BANA itself is a five-year project with an investment of $24.5 million by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
While Bangladesh has made significant progress in reducing malnutrition and elevating overall GDP, Bangladesh’s Government found that 24% of the population still remain below the poverty line (around 38 million people). Nevertheless, investment in agricultural technology has a substantially positive impact, and the U.S. Government endeavors to work with both public and private institutions to promote agricultural technology development. Alongside this, BANA’s objectives include increasing the productivity of aquaculture systems and strengthening aquaculture market systems. This is where the partnership between ByteAlly and BANA fits in.
The blockchain food traceability program is scheduled to start during the first week of September, initially involving fish farms, hatcheries, and nurseries from Bangladesh’s Jessore district. The second phase will target the marketplace, such as distributors, processors, and retailers.
The project uses blockchain for the end-to-end tracing of a new high-yield carp variety. Carp itself is a major food fish in Bangladesh, and BANA has succeeded in developing a carp that can grow to a sellable size in 18 months, 25% faster than the usual 24 months. Now, the aim is to move these fish into the market quickly. Using blockchain technology, BANA will track and trace the fish, thereby establishing trust, managing risk, and ensuring the quality of the carp.
IBM’s Food Trust blockchain is being used, which has already been deployed by multiple firms in tracing various food products, from salmon and berries to olive oil. ByteAlly has built multiple aspects such as a cloud ERP to digitize processes which will act as the data source for blockchain uploads. It also developed an Android mobile app, an API that is compliant with GS1 EPCIS standards and the infrastructure to receive IoT sensor data in the cloud.
If successful in its future phases and possible expansion, the program will benefit not only the stakeholders of the seafood and aquaculture market, but also the wider population in tackling poverty and malnutrition throughout Bangladesh.