Blockchain is a very promising technology that can raise supply chain digitalization in the agri-food sector to a higher level. A blockchain empowered food chain will have high level of transparency, traceability, trust and lower level of fraud. It ensures the integrity of information regarding food quality and provenance. For this reason, Blockchain technology is now on the radar of all mayor players in the agri-food chain. However, the implementation is still in an early stage. Most use cases have an experimental nature and are exploring the pros and cons in prototypes.
Research area/discipline: Software Engineering
Blockchain is a new manner to share data and to conduct transactions. The transactions could be of any type: financial such as for Bitcoin as well as for, say, transfers of products in a supply chain, sustainability certifications, food safety inspections, or quality audits.
Blockchain technology is unique due to the combination of several characteristics; in particular:
- Transactions are always linked to their previous ones and are thus traceable to the source.
- Participants in a Blockchain network do one-to-one business based on consensus and not through a central intermediary (such as a bank or controller).
- All participants retain a copy of the data and are thus not dependent on a central database.
- The stored data is encrypted and can no longer be modified after approval.
The main objective of this research, which may comprise multiple thesis projects, is to investigate what is needed to scale-up the application of Blockchain in the agri-food domain. More specifically, a systematic analysis of existing applications is needed to identify the enablers and bottlenecks for Blockchain implementations.
Subsequently, the research aims to develop a reference architecture, framework and guidelines that take into account both socio-organisational and technical factors.
Last but not least, Blockchain solutions will be designed and developed for not yet addressed challenges in particular sectors. Especially the latter can be done in collaboration with companies that are active in the food, agriculture, horticulture or software business.
- F. Antonucci, S. Figorilli, C. Costa, F. Pallottino, L. Raso, P. Menesatti, 2019. A review on blockchain applications in the agri‐food sector. Journal of the science of Food and Agriculture, 99 (14), pp. 6129-6138.
- L. Ge, C. Brewster, J. Spek, A. Smeenk, J. Top, F. van Diepen, B. Klaase, C. Graumans, and M. de Ruyter de Wildt, 2017. Blockchain for agriculture and food: Findings from the pilot study. Wageningen Economic Research, report 2017-112, 34 pp.
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