The Blue Number Initiative, a global registry system created by a U.S.-based nonprofit organization for farmers working to build sustainable food supply chains, is slowly taking root in Japan, with ANA Holdings Inc. becoming the first Japanese company to join the campaign in January.
The initiative, launched by the Blue Number Foundation headquartered in New York, provides farmers with a unique identification number which allows them to register and disclose globally information about their products, including how and where they are cultivated, whether they are organic or grown with reduced amount of agricultural chemicals and whether they are certified under the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) program.
Such information could be viewed from PCs and mobile devices since September last year, and it is now available in Japanese as well.
The initiative gives farmers an online presence, making them visible in the supply chain linking producers and consumers, as well as creating traceability and transparency.
Registration is free of charge, and any farmer or agricultural organization like farm coops can register. Some 2,000 farmers and organizations, mainly in Southeast Asia, are currently registered, although no Japanese farmer has obtained the ID number yet.
Blue Number Foundation CEO Puvan J. Selvanathan, 49, says he started the project because of concerns over farmers left unrecognized in the global distribution system of farm products. He points out that farmers have no presence in the food distribution process and they remain largely underprivileged and exploited, with distributors beating down prices.
ANA Holdings, the first Japanese firm to take part in the initiative, said it hopes to use this platform to further strengthen the management of its supply chain for all food related services amid expected rise in demand for securing transparency in food products ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Its spokesman said the firm plans to utilize the system to label the place of origin on food products used in in-flight meals.