The agriculture inputs (Ag input or Agri input) market comprises products needed for farming such as fertilizers, plant protection products, feedstuff, additives, cleaning agents, etc. While passable and availability of agriculture inputs is required for enhancing the productivity of crops, proper use of agrochemical products is also essential since it affects the lives of millions directly and indirectly. Therefore, strict vigilance is maintained in the supply of these products.
According to Rallis, if the world were to produce 2.5 times of current food, farm practices and biotechnology would be the most significant contributors in the game. As per researchers and experts, more production is possible from less land with great quality seeds, quality inputs, and enhanced farm practices. Here, quality inputs refer to increased input efficiency – nutrients and water, increased agrochemicals usage for crop protection, and enhanced nitrogen use efficiency. It is predicted that the agricultural productivity of India is expected to increase substantially. Factors aiding the shift include increased mobile literacy, internet penetration, technology advancement and adoption, more accessible information on crops, timely supply of suitable products at the right prices, and easy delivery of these products.
The Indian Agri inputs market is also transforming at a super-fast rate with the fast-evolving technology space and its swift adoption. According to FICCI, India’s Agri input industry, which comprises seeds, crop nutrition, and protection, is set to grow at an amazing rate of 8.1% annually and touch US$ 8.1 billion by 2025. But the consumption of crop protection products in India is amongst the lowest in the world. Some of the main reasons include low purchasing power of farmers, limited reach and accessibility of products, and lack of technological awareness among farmers. Ironically, India is the fourth largest producer of agrochemicals globally, after the United States, Japan and China and the crop protection industry is a significant industry for the Indian economy. However, due to lack of knowledge and purchasing power, farmers purchase counterfeit agricultural chemical products to protect their produce, unaware that they are causing considerable harm to soil and crops.
The challenge of tackling counterfeits in Agri input supply chain
Counterfeit agricultural inputs refer to any product that is not legal to be in the country, but still placed on the market. These products include fake pesticides, unauthorized chemicals, and so on. Some of these challenges faced by various stakeholders in the agriculture industry because of such counterfeits include:
- Irreversible damage caused to the soil because of fake or illegal chemicals, ground and surface water contamination, and an imbalance of natural flora and fauna
- Export of tons of fruits and vegetables at stake because of illegal pesticides
- Rejection of food grains by other countries
Over the last few years, data management and AI technologies have been considered for their potential to deal with the integrated yet complex Agri input industry. These new technologies have proved to be relevant in the context of complex value chains. Blockchain technology, a distributed ledger technology, helps implement specific policy responses focusing on enhancing the security of pesticide authentication and the effectiveness of trade policies for agricultural inputs. These systems enable the identification and reporting of suspicious activities within the supply chain system and report fraudulent behavior. Internet of Things or IoT offers farmers opportunities to review their environment in an advanced way through connected devices, analytic tools, and automation. Data analytics identify various kinds of risks associated with the supply chain, such as crop conditions, loss of products during transit, etc.
Fight counterfeiting in Agri input supply chain with AI-powered supply chain solutions
Today, there are several supply chain automation platforms focused on the agricultural input industry that help build a unified view of data to be analyzed to make smarter decisions. It breaks down silos and connects data from various stakeholders. This data carries details around the products at each touch point, ranging from raw materials being used, manufacturing source, and details around volume, to items received at the other end. By using these platforms that can capture all these metadata, anomalies can be identified in the agricultural inputs supply chains. This level of trackability helps ensure there are no counterfeits and products being used to comply with health and safety regulations.
Take, for example, DforD’s AI-powered Agri input supply chain solution. With patented anti-counterfeit technology and artificial intelligence (AI) powered monitoring systems, the clones are detected and invalidated as they surface. This prevents unauthorized distribution and takes away the business incentive from counterfeiters. It provides every item a unique, secure, and traceable identity applied as a QR Code. Each code is continuously monitored, and the complete product journey from the manufacturer’s warehouse to the ultimate consumer is captured. This is presented in real-time with insightful and engaging management dashboards for analysis.
Such platforms can therefore be effectively used in the Agri input industry to manage the challenges related to counterfeits as they leverage the power of data and enable real-time seamless collaboration in the supply chains.