Our agriculture systems are evolving rapidly, now more than ever, due to the growing population, market changes, and technological advancements. However, such evolution is not exempt from challenges, especially when it comes to moving agri-input products through the supply chain and ensuring the satisfaction of stakeholders. And overcoming such challenges requires a profound collaboration of connected stakeholders, who’d be woven together with advanced and innovative technological solutions. One such challenge is improving traceability in the agri-input supply chain.
So, what’s agri-input supply chain traceability?
Agri-input supply chain traceability is the process of tracking the place of origin and journey of agri-input products, like pesticides, fertilizers, and seeds, from the very start of the supply chain through to end-use. With the help of a robust traceability system, agri-input companies can improve efficiency, resilience and create a cost-efficient supply chain. This enhances customer satisfaction and competitiveness in the market.
End-to-end traceability contributes to more than just regulatory compliance and crop safety. It reduces producer operational costs, increases profitability, regulates fraudulent or unethical practices, and opens up new business opportunities. When stakeholders actively collaborate to implement a technologically enabled end-to-end traceability system, supply chains can reach their full potential.
So, how can companies improve agri-input supply chain traceability?
One can improve agri-input supply chain traceability with the help of technology and the stakeholders in the supply chain. Here are a few ways one can adopt to improve agri-input supply chain traceability.
1.Communicate transparently and often: Communication is the underpinning of all successful relationships. Likewise, suppliers and customers must communicate about everything from product availability to supply chain risk as frequently as possible. If you want to improve your company’s supply chain traceability, finding ways to encourage this communication is critical. One way to do this is by enabling customers to identify potential traceability issues through their channel partners. Doing this can help minimize the impact of one-off events and find ways to address them quickly. Similarly, companies should encourage suppliers to communicate any issues they encounter as they trace products along the supply chain. Doing so will lead to a more collaborative environment in supply chain management that may help further prevent contamination that could harm consumers.
2.Build a culture of prevention: The best way to improve supply chain traceability is to focus not on responding to contamination but on preventing it from occurring in the first place. For many businesses, this means adopting preventive controls for known hazards. However, it would help if you didn’t do this in isolation. Companies must also build a culture of prevention by encouraging employees to take a “safety first” approach when handling products and engaging in activities throughout the supply chain. Make sure this type of culture isn’t limited within the walls of your business. It should also extend to your suppliers, particularly when they are located in countries with weak regulatory regimes. By encouraging your suppliers to adopt precautionary measures when producing products, you can help minimize the risk of contaminants entering your agri-input supply chain.
3.Make data-driven decisions: As part of your efforts to improve supply chain traceability, you may have invested in new technology designed to improve data visibility. Such technologies can enhance supply chain visibility and optimize production to prevent recalls. However, if that data is not being used to inform decision-making, it is not doing its job. Make data-driven decisions a priority to improve your company’s supply chain traceability. For example, if the product is being recalled, find out the reason. Why is this happening if certain suppliers are experiencing frequent “cold breaks” (a reduction in productivity caused by cold weather)? Find out why a specific type of fertilizer is in short supply. By making data-driven decisions, you can uncover potential issues before they become significant problems. This will allow you to address issues as quickly as possible and minimize the risk of contaminants impacting your supply chain.
4.Implement advanced technology: While the previous strategies can help you improve your company’s supply chain traceability, it is essential to remember that they are only effective if they are consistently applied. This is particularly true in the age of contemporary technology, where many consumers expect high visibility within their supply chains. For many businesses, achieving this visibility is best done through software designed to help manage product flow. These systems can track all products back to their origin and help you quickly identify potential issues. For example, if an E. coli outbreak occurs within a particular region, the software can help you quickly identify which products are affected. Knowing where the contamination occurred, you can trace it back through the supply chain to the source.
5.Establish effective supply chain partnerships: Supply chain partnerships are becoming increasingly common among agri-input businesses. While this trend has primarily been driven by the need to find new sources of raw materials in response to a tightening fertilizer market, it may also be used to improve supply chain traceability. This is particularly true when you enter into a strategic partnership with a company that shares your commitment to improving supply chain traceability. By sharing information about your supply chain management, you can help improve your overall visibility and quickly identify potential issues. Doing so can help prevent contaminants from entering your supply chain and protect the health of your customers and employees.
Due to traceability, suppliers can respond swiftly to challenges by maintaining a total production and distribution history record. It allows companies to follow products and goods as they move along the value chain and to glean exact information about the provenance of inputs, supplier sourcing practices, and conversion processes. But, improving your company’s supply chain traceability is not a one-time process. It is an ongoing effort that requires you to remain vigilant and continuously improve your systems. To do this, you must stay committed to the five strategies outlined in this article. When you do, you will be well on your way to protecting your company and its customers from damages. For more information on leveraging the power of data-driven technologies to improve agri-input supply chain traceability, talk to our experts today.