Bananas are an important part of the agricultural economy in Vietnam. Production has increased more than 3% each year over the past several decades. Bananas are a multi-billion-dollar market, and Vietnamese farmers have steadily been increasing exports to countries like Japan and China.
Traditionally, bananas (and other fruits) have been difficult to track and manage in the supply chain. However, new technology is emerging that can help improve production and provide greater visibility.
Near Field Communications (NFC) tags can be used to manage and track the fruit, and are currently being deployed in a first-of-its-kind application by the Da K’Nang Laba Banana Cooperative in Vietnam.
Since the Cooperative was formed in October 2018, Da K’Nang has grown from seven farming households to 40 in early 2020. The cooperative grows bananas on 200 hectares of land. The Cooperative is working with a partner to ship Laba bananas to Japan as part of a five-year agreement. The Cooperative will handle harvesting, processing, packaging and exporting the bananas.
Need for high durability
Managing and tracking such a high volume of fruit is challenging. To help, the Japanese partner is providing the cooperative with electronic chips to monitor banana plant development across 50 hectares of land.
Da K’Nang’s Japanese partner is working with a Tokyo-based technology firm, Aquabit Spirals, to provide Confidex NFC tags and mobile application for managing and monitoring the bananas. Aquabit chose the Confidex Ironside Micro NFC tag for the application.
“The solution was to be used in a banana farm, which has heavy rain and high temperature,” says Aquabit’s Kosuke San. “The tags had to have a high durability under such an environment and also to the shocks occurring during the farm works. Ironside Micro NFC was selected in order to provide a stable performance over years in these extreme circumstances.”
The Confidex solution
The Ironside family of tags was designed for use in industrial applications where they would be exposed to variable weather conditions and rough handling. The tags have an IP68 rating for protection against the elements, and are available as UHF RFID or NFC variants with a read range up to 10m.
The NFC tags are mounted on iron pipes in the open near each banana tree. The data collected from the tags will help monitor banana development, as well as improve management of the banana plantation throughput and for supply chain management.
Banana plant digitalization
While specific details about the data being collected have not been disclosed, wireless tags have been used in other agriculture applications to help monitor information such as weight, moisture levels, and harvest dates/times.
Using the NFC tag data, the Cooperative and its partners will, for the first time, have access to digital data that can be used for both agricultural activities and for logistics management once the bananas have been harvested.
The software for the application was designed by Aquabit Spirals, using its proprietary NFC software platform. Aquabit develops “Hyperlink of Things” applications that allow tagged objects to become online service activators in the physical world.
In the first stage of the project, the plantation expects to deploy 105,000 NFC tags, and the next stage is expected to be deployed within this year.