Decentralizing Supply Chain

The ERC-721 Standard

Manroop Kalsi
5 min readMay 22, 2021

Illness, trust, and poverty.

These are the three things that are wrong with our current agricultural supply chain system.


Worldwide, unsafe food causes approximately 600 million cases of foodborne diseases, which has resulted in over 420,000 deaths each year. The majority of these deaths are children under the age of 5.

The world health organization has estimated that 33 million years of healthy lives are lost due to eating unsafe food, and this number has believed to be an under exaggeration.


Nowadays, it seems that every other product in the grocery aisle is ‘organically grown’ or ‘ethically sourced.’ The unfortunate reality is that we don’t actually know if this information is true. And once you buy the food, what if it came from a batch of food that was contaminated and you didn’t know that, then there’s a possibility that that food could kill you.


Tracing the food back to its origin, at the farms, specifically zooming into the farmers. According to the world bank, 800 million poor people are reliant on agricultural work to make their living.

Right now at this moment, millions of farmers are protesting on the streets of New Delhi because of the recent amendments in farmer laws in India. The amendments have encouraged privatization in the agricultural sector, and farmers there no longer are guaranteed minimum support prices for their production.

Take it in. A lot of these people were already not making enough to put food on the table for their families and were barely making enough money to survive.

A lot of these problems are not impossible to address.

We already have everything we need to build a solution to this problem that impacts everyone. Blockchain technology can be applied to much more than just Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.

Using blockchain technology, the Ethereum network, and smart contracts we can address each one of these issues.

Read more about Blockchain here!

What is a Smart Contract?

A smart contract is where all the business logic of an application lies, and where the actual decentralized portion of it is coded.

The job of the contract is to read and write data onto the blockchain while executing the business logic.

For an agricultural Supply chain Dapp, we would be able to track each individual product from its origin at the farm all the way to the store. Each product would be associated with a unique product number which is how the tracking would occur.


So if I was a farmer, I would be able to set the price and sell off a batch that also has a specific number associated with it through a Dapp, and once it is sold the ownership of that specific batch would be transferred to the next owner who would have complete control over that batch, and this transfer of ownership would keep occurring up until the batch produce reaches the consumers. Using the ERC-721 standard each batch would be associated with its own unique digital token.

Now with each transfer, there would be metadata associated with it, like the product name, identifier so a QR code or barcode, batch number, location, the owner’s account address, and the price. When the product transaction occurs all this information would be recorded on the decentralized Ethereum network.

But how exactly does this help address any issues?

Because each product is tracked from its origin, it would be much much easier to distinguish which products are contaminated. So, if I was a farmer had a contaminated harvest, using the Dapp I would be able to identify every single product that was contaminated and their location. Once the new owners would be notified, the contaminated products would be able to be quickly taken out of circulation in the supply chain.

On top of that, we have the opportunity to reinstate customer trust in their food.

If I was going to buy a specific green pepper I would be able to use the product identifier, and see the full history of the product, which would enable me to know exactly how long it’s been in the store, or how many days it’s been since harvest.

This would completely change the transparency in our supply chain system, allowing people to trust what they are about to put into their bodies.

Having this traceback feature allows for an additional benefit, being able to connect the farmers with the consumers. If I purchased my green pepper, I would also have the option to tip the exact farmer, so the person who grew my green pepper. Which would be the first person who ever had possession of the token for my pepper. This would allow us to be able to give back to the farmers, the people who are the backbone of our nation and make sure that we actually have food to eat.

This Dapp goes far beyond grocer stores- franchises like Tim Hortons and Starbucks can use it for products like coffee. You’d be able to know the exact origin of the coffee bean in each cup, allowing you to tip those farmers for that cup as well.

Learn more about the ERC-721 standard here :)

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