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Tracking Thai Agricultural and Seafood Products from Farms to Stores with Smart Sensors and Traceability Software

The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC) and the Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT) has tied up with the IBM and FXA Group to help retailers, exporters, and farmers to trace agricultural and seafood products of Thailand from farms to stores for ensuring better global food safety.

The CAT is among the leading providers of communications solutions in Thailand.

Thailand is among the largest agricultural producers and exporters in the world. During 2009, Thailand earned an income of about $17.3 billion through livestock and food exports. Thailand is also the fourth largest frozen chicken exporter in the world.

In a situation where the worldwide global supply chain crosses international borders, consumers do not have any dependable information that relates to conditions under which food consumed by them are produced and shipped. With the U.S. alone reporting more than about 76 million food-related diseases and 5,000 deaths per year, governments worldwide are advocating more strict regulations for protecting consumers better against food-borne illnesses.

During the initial project phase, the Thai Ministry of Agriculture will collaborate with IBM and FXA closely for helping around 600 food producers and exporters of vegetables, fresh fruits, seafood, and chicken by using traceability solutions of IBM and FXA for their exports.

Agricultural producers in Thailand will be able to gather information related to every lot of food produced in the nation by utilizing food traceability technology that will be installed by FXA. The Ministry of Agriculture in Thailand is currently enlarging the system offered by FXA with traceability software and sensor from IBM. This will result in the incorporation of an open technology layer in the system to empower agricultural producers and growers to utilize dedicated serial numbers that are stored on barcodes or sensors and share key information on agro products when they are in transit to market destinations. It is possible for food supply chain trading partners to access securely all important information captured on every agro product by utilizing IBM’s software. IBM technology is complaint with GS1 EPCglobal's EPCIS standard relating to sharing of information that implies that trading partners who utilize an EPCIS-complaint system will be able to use the system for assessing important information related to the product.

This project has enabled Thailand to emerge as the world’s first country that has adopted the food traceability standard established by the EPCIS. This is a vital step that ensures consumers’ safety world over, since there is no easy or fast method for governments and retailers to find out the origin of the contaminated food. Government authorities and retailers will be able to determine the farm that grew the contaminated food whenever a consumer is sick by using IBM’s technology, and arrange for a targeted recall of related food lots quickly so that the number of affected people can be minimized. In the U.S. alone, every year consumers or retailers throw away food worth $48 billion, according to the United Nations. The amount of good food thrown away by retailers can be reduced with such a capability to perform additional targeted calls.

Agricultural producers in Thailand can use this effective food traceability technology to gather all related information for every lot of meat and agricultural products, such as the farm where it was produced, its processing location, present location, and temperature.

The IBL and FXA solution deployed incorporates the InfoSphere Traceability Server software of IBM and the OpsSmart food safety solution of FXA. These technologies can be utilized with a broad range of data gathering technologies like RFID, 2-D barcodes and linear barcodes.


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