Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Traceability System
Local producers nowadays can’t compete with global food and pharmaceutical industry. Although their initial strategy was to produce and sell products made from local species from local places of origin, it is hard to display all those data on a single packaging label. The trace-me.org system was designed to help the consumers choose local products, or products that originate from specific country. Also, they can choose products from specific producers, harvesters or processors. If they want to obtain more particular information about the product, they can simply scan the product’s QR code with their smartphones (only the products that have a special QR code generated from trace-me.org website).
The purpose of the traceability system is to link the final product made from aromatic or medicinal plants to the place of origin, specie of origin, method of harvesting, harvester, processor and producer. By having a QR code placed on a particular end product, the consumer can easily obtain more information than those described on the label of the product, and can choose which product is most relevant to their needs.
By using traceability systems, like trace-me.org developed within the Incredible project, producers of aromatic and medicinal products can advertise their products in addition to the information contained on the packaging and label. Also, more information can be provided about the product, including certificates, if they have any. This traceability tool isn’t developed only to trace production steps of a product – it is designed also to trace harvesters, places of origin, species of origin and processors. All those info’s can be categorized by various custom filters. It can work from two sides – by scanning the trace-me.org QR code of the product or by visiting directly the website and search for relevant informations.
In order to take full advantage of the system, a marketing campaign among the local producers should be carried out. The more data the system contains, more visible the website will be. The system can be used also to advertise processors or harvesters that do not produce a final product. If a harvester do not have the required tools to process the final product, the trace-me.org system can be used as ‘yellow pages’ for finding the needed contacts. Although the system is designed to trace the final product, at the end became obvious that all other value chain stakeholders can also be traced. In addition to its purpose, the system can have a great added value in terms of development of rural economy.
Impacts and weaknesses
The trace-me.org system is not one of a kind. Various traceability tools were developed before for all kind of non-wood forest products. The main goal of system promotion has to be the visibility and uniqueness: most value chain actors are incorporated into the system. There is also a possibility of adding the R&D and legal administration part. What the trace-me.org system won’t handle is the differences among taxation systems between various different countries.
The trace-me.org system is still in its testing phase. More products should be added to the system. If needed translations to all user languages should be made and if a need emerges, a web-shop should be developed. Before developing an on-line selling point, the problem with different taxation systems should be or solved or incorporated into the website, which could possibly make the usage of the system more difficult.