Strengthening Rice Supply Chain Traceability through Food Chain Partnership
What was the market situation?
Rice, one of India’s main grains and staple crops, flourishesin the hot, humid climate of Indian states where there is heavy annual rainfall of over 1,000 mm and temperatures of 25 °C. and above. Through the development of a wide range of enhanced rice products, such as processed and canned rice or ready-to-eat meals, the importance of the rice crop to India’s economy cannot be overestimated.
The rice supply chain in India is extremely complex, since numerous stakeholders and middlemen are involved. This means there has traditionally been little to no traceability from farm to factory gate. Moreover, as the entire grain market is driven by price rather than quality parameters such as protein and fiber content, contaminants such as heavy metals or mycotoxins have also been an issue.
However, the market situation is changing as consumers and local regulators become more aware of such issues and increasingly demand local, safe, and sustainable foodstuffs. Knowledge about good agricultural practices and the quality standards demanded by companies such as Nestlé are becoming more important criteria in sourcing rice or rice-based products. Thus, traceability is now one of the key tools in ensuring that safe products enter the marketplace and boost consumer confidence.
As a subsidiary of the world’s largest food and beverage company, Nestlé India is committed to long-term sustainable growth and shareholder satisfaction. As such, it has earned the trust and respect of every stratum of Indian society and is acknowledged to be one of India’s “MostRespected Companies” and “Top Wealth Creators.” Accordingly, Nestlé India demands the highest standards when procuring rice from domestic sources.
left: Pankaj Sharma, Bayer India; right: Vinay Kumar, Nestlé India
What was the solution?
This Food Chain Partnership project implemented the Bayer Passport, a tool developed for record management and documentation at farm level to solve the traceability challenge. Passport copies were supplied to all growers involved in the project and they also received strong support from Bayer’s technical team. Regular field visits were a key factor in the process of verifying traceability while the crop was still standing in the field, where it is subject to the vagaries of weather and exposed to other known or unknown factors affecting its quality. Bayer staff provided growers with regular assistance, from sowing to harvest,on the agreed inputs and other aspects of the production process.