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Blockchain-based Reputation System in Agri-Food Supply Chain

Abstract and Figures

Supply chains are evolving into automated and highly complex networks and are becoming an important source of potential benefits in the modern world. However, it is challenging to track the provenance of data and maintain traceability throughout the network. The traditional supply chains are centralized and dependent on third party for trading. Centralized systems lack transparency, accountability and auditability. In our proposed solution, we have presented a blockchain-based reputation system in Agriculture and Food (Agri-Food) supply chain. It leverages the key features of blockchain and smart contract deployed over ethereum blockchain network. Although blockchain provides an immutable network for supply chain events, it still fails to solve the problem of trust among entities. Therefore, a reputation system is required that logs reviews of sellers and maintains the trust between trading entities.
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Blockchain-based Reputation System in
Agri-Food Supply Chain
Affaf Shahid, Umair Sarfraz, Muhammad Waseem Malik, Muhammad Sohaib
Iftikhar, Abid Jamal, and Nadeem Javaid
Abstract Supply chains are evolving into automated and highly complex networks
and are becoming an important source of potential benefits in the modern world.
However, it is challenging to track the provenance of data and maintain traceability
throughout the network. The traditional supply chains are centralized and dependent
on third party for trading. Centralized systems lack transparency, accountability and
auditability. In our proposed solution, we have presented a blockchain-based reputa-
tion system in Agriculture and Food (Agri-Food) supply chain. It leverages the key
features of blockchain and smart contract deployed over ethereum blockchain net-
work. Although blockchain provides an immutable network for supply chain events,
it still fails to solve the problem of trust among entities. Therefore, a reputation sys-
tem is required that logs reviews of sellers and maintains the trust between trading
entities.
1 Introduction
The supply chain management is a group of processes and sub processes involved
in supply chain activities. The supply chain activities involve the flow of goods and
services to transform a raw material into a final product. It is also interpreted as
a network of entities that are part of the system from production till trading. The
network is divided into several stages and span upto months while completing the
entire process. In such scenario , if the final product lacks in quality, it becomes
difficult to track the root cause of the problem [1]. With the increasing demands
of end consumers and their keen interest in the provenance of data, it has become
Affaf Shahid, Umair Sarfraz, Muhammad Waseem Malik, Muhammad Sohaib Iftikhar, Abid
Jamal, and Nadeem Javaid (Corresponding Author),
COMSATS University Islamabad, Islamabad 44000, Pakistan; email: nadeem-
javaidqau@gmail.com
1
2 Affaf et al.
fundamental part of Agri-Food supply chains to track the movement of products
from origin to the end consumers.
For the purpose of gaining end consumers trust, the supply chain authorities have
to be quick and accurate in responding. It is also important for supply chain authori-
ties to comply towards quality, integrity and credibility of the entire process. Several
solutions are proposed to track the provenance of data. While, several countries like
Canada and China have already started to work on the law and regulations. Canada
has enforced the use of tags and bar codes to identify the provenance of the product.
China has also proposed solutions to track the entire process [2]. These application,
enforce to improve the traceability schemes in order to achieve quality, transparency,
credibility and security.
The supply chain networks also perform the trading of the products between dif-
ferent entities. These networks work in a centralized manner and involve third party
to complete the trading process. The centralized systems result in the falsification
of information. Therefore, the information between Agri-Food supply chain entities
is inconsistent. The third parties for the trading process also lack credibility and
trustfulness while performing transactions.
The emergence of blockchain as a base technology of Bitcoin is recognized
by several industries around the globe, e.g., finance, Electronic Medical Records
(EMRs) [3], Internet of Things (IoT) [4], [5], [6], energy [7] and many more.
Blockchain is a secure by design system that can overcome aforementioned risks
through its features like immutability, transparency, traceability and security. Bit-
coin, the decentralized peer-to-peer digital currency is the most popular application
that is based on blockchain technology [8]. However, the current Bitcoin network is
not a one-size-fit all solution, especially for data-driven domains as it faces latency,
storage and throughput issues [9]. Several network architectures and distributed con-
sensus protocols that keep the integrity of a blockchain while enabling high through-
put and improved storage capabilities have been explored. Similarly, an efficient
monitoring of production of Agri-Food products is critical in terms of product safety.
The growing concerns of consumers and government regarding food quality has also
renewed the concept of traceability in supply-chain. The traditional supply-chains
suffer with centralization and become vulnerable both in terms of management and
data modification. However, blockchain plays a significant role in evolution of sup-
ply chain with its inherent properties. Moreover, it also provides smart contracts
leveraging safe trading transactions among systems. Despite of the trust less nature
of blockchain-based Agri-Food chains, it is hard for the end-consumers to trust the
product owner and quality of the product before performing a transaction.
Additionally, the traditional centralized storage schemes are unable to handle
large amount of data produced during supply chain processes and consequently
cause bottleneck. Therefore, several decentralized storage schemes are proposed in
literature to overcome the issues like high latency, low throughput and bottlenecks.
In paper [10] a blockchain-based soybean traceability scheme is proposed. The so-
lution uses ethereum smart contracts and Interplanetary File Storage System (IPFS)
Blockchain-based Reputation System in Agri-Food Supply Chain 3
to achieve complete traceability. The storage medium is IPFS 1. IPFS uses the tech-
nologies like an incentivized block exchange and Distributed Hash Table (DHT). In
IPFS, nodes do not trust each other and there is no single point of failure. However,
the data stored in IPFS gets available if the hash of the data is available. IPFS nodes
also act selfishly while backing up data. While, authors in [11] have proposed an ef-
ficient storage scheme for Agri-Food tracking. The transaction hash in the proposed
solution is stored in a secondary database. To retrieve data from IPFS, the transac-
tion hash is accessed from secondary database. Using that transaction hash, IPFS
hash is retrieved from the blockchain. However, if the secondary database fails,
whole system will fail. Similarly, Paper [12] has proposed an auditable protocol
for transparent, tamper-proof and verifiable transactions between trading entities.
The trading entities are Merchant, Logistics Company and Consumers. However,
authors have not considered credibility of merchants and trust between trading en-
tities. Therefore, to overcome aforementioned issues, our paper aims to contribute
in the growing work on blockchain-based Agri-Food supply chains. The proposed
solution uses ethereum smart contracts to assure an efficient, secure and trsuted en-
vironment for the trading entities. It maintains the integrity and immutability of the
reviews registered through smart contract. It also provides a detailed performance
analysis of the proposed scheme in terms of gas required.
1.1 Related Work
In this section, the work done in existing literature is summarized based on problems
and respective solutions proposed. In paper [13], authors proposed a blockchain-
based Agri-Food supply chain system. It uses a systematic preventive approach for
food safety i.e., Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). They dis-
cussed the pros and cons of using RFID tags and Agri-Food supply chain traceabil-
ity. In traditional storage schemes, the data is stored in centralized storage. After
the invention of blockchain many decentralized storage systems are used to store
the data in a decentralized manner. Paper [11] proposed an efficient storage scheme
for Agri-Food product tacking. Authors used IPFS along with secondary database
to achieve the traceability.IPFS is a network used to store and share data in a de-
centralized file system. To retrieve data from IPFS, the transaction hash is accessed
from secondary database. Using that transaction hash, IPFS hash is retrieved from
the blockchain. However, if the secondary database fails, whole system will fail.
Authors in [10], proposed an approach for efficient transactions of soybean trace-
ability in Agri-Food supply chain. The proposed solution overcomes the problems
of centralized solutions and eliminates the need for a trusted third party. It maintains
high integrity, reliability and more security. However, authors have not considered
the accountability and auditability of the data delivered and automated payments.
While, it has also not tackled ”dispute” in case of failed trading transactions. Paper
1A popular, decentralized, peer-to-peer file storage system
4 Affaf et al.
[14] has proposed a proof of delivery mechanism to deliver physical assets between
multiple transporters. In the proposed solution, all the entities are act honestly by
incentivizing the trading entities. Automated payments through ethers are also the
part of proposed solution. However, the proposed scheme has used a key and asset
while transporting the asset. The key and the asset delivered have no relation be-
tween them and as a result, transporters can easily tamper the asset to be delivered.
Paper [12] has proposed an auditable protocol for transparent, tamper-proof and
verifiable transactions between entities. It has also proposed a pre-verification tech-
nique to overcome the limitation in paper [14] However, credibility of merchants
is not considered. In [15], a decentralized storage mechanism along with ethereum
blockchain is proposed. The paper aims at overcoming the risks of centralized stor-
age, i.e., leakage of the sensitive data and a single point of failure. The decentralized
storage mechanism used is IPFS. In the proposed framework, before storing the data
in IPFS, the file is encrypted using a file encryption algorithm. The ciphertext ob-
tained after encryption is uploaded to IPFS. IPFS provides the hash of the stored
file which is recorded in ethereum blockchain. However, the proposed solution if
Layer 1
Layer 3
Farmer Processor Distributor Retailer Consumer
Layer 2
Write Data
Store Data
Trade Events Smart Contract Reputation
System
Fig. 1: System Model
Blockchain-based Reputation System in Agri-Food Supply Chain 5
applied in IoT scenario, will not work efficiently because of the increased computa-
tional overhead.
The authors in [16] have proposed an approach for trustless privacy preserving
reputation system. The proposed solution maintains the anonymous ratings of prod-
ucts and provides the correctness and security analysis of the proposed scheme.
However, no performance analysis is provided that is required to guarantee effi-
ciency of token generation. Additionally, there is no link between the ratings and
the transactions and are consequently prone to malicious users. Paper [17] has dis-
cussed the existing and proposed solutions that work on maintaining trust and rep-
utation while performing online transactions. The authors have then proposed an
agenda for reputation systems. Every online transactional platform has the problem
of truthfulness between the seller and buyer. This is for the reason that the both
parties do not directly meet to perform the transaction. Therefore, a review system
is required that maintains the sellers reviews against his profile and helps buyers
to evaluate the seller and products beforehand. A blockchain-based reputation sys-
tem is proposed in paper [18]. The proposed solution provides data credibility in
the vehicular networks. Each message that is transfered from one entity to another
is reviewed on the basis of environment traffic. Each review is then blocked and
chained in the network. Based on these reviews, the vehicles are able to trust the
messages obtained. However, the credibility of the entities that transfer messages is
not maintained.
2 System Model
In this section, we describe our proposed solution. To achieve complete traceability
and trust in supply chain management of Agri-Food chains, our proposed model
consists of three layers. The first layer is comprised of supply-chain entities in-
volved in Agri-Food chain. The trading events produced from first layer are written
on second layer and are then recorded on the blockchain. At the second layer, the
transactions from the first layer are stored in a ledger. and it only keeps the hashes
of data in order to increase storage space. These transactions are processed by strict
access control strategies that define the rules who can access or write data to IPFS. A
reputation system is also part of the second layer. This reputation system is respon-
sible for invoking smart contracts to provide service based reviews to the providers.
Once the transaction is completed, the buyers register reviews which are also stored
on IPFS. For the next transaction, the buyers request reviews of sellers and perform
transactions on the basis of those reviews. The reputation system provides the trust
values to the sellers in order to increase the trust among trading entities. The trust
values are the quality ratings of the services provided by the sellers. These trust
values are stored against the digital profiles of trading entities in blockchain based
supply-chain. The last layer is storage layer that stores the data from layer two and
leverages the blockchain system with high throughput, low latency and scalability.
6 Affaf et al.
The first layer consists of multiple supply-chain entities that interact through
smart contract with specific roles and permissions. Following are the entities in-
volved:
Farmer; Farmer is the first entity in Agri-Food supply chain and is the first one
to invoke smart contract for trading. Farmers produce large amount of crops and
take the responsibility for assuring and monitoring the crop growth details. IoT
devices in the farms are responsible for gathering images and videos of the seed’s
health, crop growth details and saving it on IPFS. Blockchain stores the hashes
of data stored in IPFS.
Processor; Processor buys the crops from farmers and is responsible for selling
a finalized product to distributors. The processor also maintains and monitors
temperature, storage and moisture of crops while eliminating the extra material
and converting it to a finalized product.
Distributor; Distributor maintains a warehouse by buying finalized products
from processors and is responsible for selling it to the retailers.
Retailer; Retailer is responsible for buying the finished traceable products from
distributors and selling it to customers in smaller quantities. Traceable product
refers to specific identifiers of the goods that allow tracking the provenance data.
Consumer; Consumer is an end user who buys and consumes the products from
retailers.
Moreover, to ensure traceability, each entity in the supply chain will be identified
by a unique key. Similarly, the product traceability is achieved by unique identifiers
of the products per lot. In order to achieve complete traceability, we record the
trading transaction from initiation, add the product ID and lot ID to each succeeding
transaction and record the hashes to maintain hash chain.The transactional data is
stored in IPFS. While, the hashes to the data are recorded as metadata in ethereum
blockchain in order to overcome the limitation of IPFS. In order to write or access
transactions from IPFS, access control list is maintained. Hence ensures the privacy
and confidentiality in the network.
A reputation system as shown in figure 2 is introduced in layer two of the pro-
posed model. The reputation system is responsible for assuring the credibility of
product owner and the asset delivered. It maintains the immutability and integrity
of the reviewed registered in the system. In contrast to the traditional reputation
systems, the reviews are recorded in IPFS while its hash is stored in blockchain. In
this way, immutability and integrity of reviews are maintained. Reputation system
is triggered while the trade events occur between the buyers and sellers.
Blockchain-based Reputation System in Agri-Food Supply Chain 7
IPFS
Save Review
Buyer
Fig. 2: Reputation System
The purpose of this system is to ensure trust among the trading entities and make
sure that the buyer knows the reputation before purchasing the data from seller.
Whenever the entities sign a smart contract for trading, smart contract for reputation
is also triggered that provides the reviews of available data sellers. Once the trading
is successfully performed, the buyer also registers review for the seller on the basis
of the goods received. The review registered by the buyer is then stored against
the seller profile in blockchain system. The smart contract as shown in Figure 2
consists of four functions, i.e., RegisterReview(), SearchRatings(), SearchReview
and IsReviewExist(). The four functions are responsible for checking whether a
review already exists,checking its content and ratings and registering a review. The
registering function takes metadata, ratings of the asset and review details as input.
These values are then used by the end consumers to evaluate the quality of the
product and reputation of the product owner. Functions for searching a review and
ratings, i.e., SearchReview(), SearchRatings()are used to get the existing ratings and
review details of a seller.
3 Simulation and Results
In this section, we will discuss the simulation tools and performance results of
the proposed system. For the simulations purpose, an open-source platform for
blockchain, i.e. Ethereum is used. Ethereum uses blockchain technology to de-
velop decentralized applications. It enables users to make smart contracts to make
agreements, without any third party involvement. To assess the performance of
blockchain-based supply-chain network, we have used Remix Integrated Develop-
ment Environment (IDE), Ganache and Metamask. Remix facilitates in writing, exe-
8 Affaf et al.
cuting and testing a smart contract. The language used for writing a smart contract in
remix is Solidity. Whereas, Ganache provides the virtual accounts with pre-defined
amount of crypto-currency. After each transaction, the crypto-currency is deducted
from the account that performed transaction. Each account in Ganache has its own
private key and unique address. However, Metamask is an extension in browser that
acts as bridge between Ganache and Remix IDE and helps them connect.
The specifications of the system are: intel core i5, 2.4 GHz processor, 8 GB
RAM and 500 GB storage. The performance parameters used to evaluate proposed
solution’s performance are as follows:
Transaction and execution cost of smart contracts.
Total amount of gas consumed for different input strings length in review system.
Mining time for different input strings length in reputation system.
The detailed gas consumption of contracts and their functions are described be-
low. In figure 3, the gas consumption of reputation system smart contract is shown.
The reputation system consists of four functions, i.e., RegisterReview(), SearchRat-
ings(), SearchReview() and IsReviewExist(). It is clearly visible from the graph
that RegisterReview() function takes the maximum execution and transaction gas
as compared to the other functions. This is because the RegisterReview() function
is responsible for saving the reviews against the user’s profile in blockchain and
perform more logically complex operations. Therefore, the transactional costs for
other functions are relatively less. The execution cost depends on computational
complexity of the transactions as they are carried out. While the transaction cost is
the combination of execution cost and the cost of sending smart contract code to the
ethereum blockchain.
RegisterReview
0
20000
40000
60000
80000
100000
120000 Transac on Cost
Execu on Cost
Gas Consump on (gas)
SearchRa ngs SearchReview IsReviewExist
Fig. 3: Gas Consumption of Review System
Blockchain-based Reputation System in Agri-Food Supply Chain 9
Figure 3 below shows the gas consumption against the length of input string
provided for each review. By plotting the graph for different lengths of input strings,
we have concluded that the relation between gas consumption and length of input
string is directly proportional, i.e., by increasing the length of an input string, the
consumption of the respective sting also increases. Therefore, we can say that longer
reviews will cost more as compared to the shorter ones.
(
gas
)
Review String Length
Gas Consumpon
Fig. 4: Gas Consumption against Input String Length
In order to compare the mining time of reviews against the input string length,
we plotted a graph as shown in figure 4. The input values provided in the reputation
system are processed as strings. We provided the input values of different lengths
and investigated its effect over the mining time for each string. It was observed
that the mining time for input was totally different and concluded that the different
lengths of input strings does not effect the mining time. However, the mining time
of transaction is dependent of the transactional conditions in a network. Miners in a
network are responsible for calculating a nonce that must be less than a target value.
Hence, if the target value has more difficulty level, mining will also increase and
vice versa.
10 Affaf et al.
Review String Length
Fig. 5: Mining Time against Different Input Length
4 Conclusion
It is no harm to say that online business transactions whether in IoT, e-commerce,
vehicular networks, supply chains, etc. are increasing with the growing days. There-
fore, a plenty of solutions are being transferred from centralized to decentralized
peer to peer networks. Blockchain, since its evolution, is helping several industries
to maintain a peer-to-peer decentralized network and keep up with the technologi-
cal advancements like secure transaction, immutability, integrity, transparency and
traceability. In this regard, supply chain industry has gained numerous benefits to
grow, move towards decentralization and achieve a trustless environment. However,
despite the trustless nature of blockchain, it is hard to fully maintain trust between
the merchandiser and buyer of the product. This is because the entities do not per-
form their business in real and buyer doubts the credibility of the merchandiser. In
this paper, we have proposed a blockchain-based reputation system in Agri-Food
supply chain. The system is proposed to maintain the credibility of the trading enti-
ties and quality ratings of the products. Moreover, it also maintains the immutability
and integrity of the registered review as they are based on blockchain. Blockchain
makes it impossible for the network entities to delete or modify a review. We have
also provided detailed discussion and simulation results. The results show that our
system requires certain amount of waiting time to mine the transaction. However,
the waiting time is independent of the input length of reviews.
Blockchain-based Reputation System in Agri-Food Supply Chain 11
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... To the best of our knowledge, there is no existing work in literature that provides an end to end solution for Agri-food supply chain. However, this paper is an extension of blockchain-based reputation system proposed in [13]. The proposed solution uses ethereum smart contracts to assure an efficient, secure and trusted environment for the supply chain activities. ...
... These values are then used by the end consumers to evaluate the quality of the product and reputation of the product owner. Revert transaction and display error 10: end if 11: procedure SaveReview() 12: procedure SendReview() 13: procedure RequestReview() 14: procedure SearchReview() ...
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Supply chains are evolving into automated and highly complex networks and are becoming an important source of potential benefits in the modern world. However, it is challenging to track the provenance of data and maintain traceability throughout the network. Consumers are now more interested in food’s and product’s quality. The traditional supply chains are centralized and they depend on third party for trading. The traditional centralized systems lack transparency, accountability and auditability. In our proposed solution, we have presented a complete 1 solution for blockchain-based Agriculture and Food (Agri-Food) supply chain. It leverages the key features of blockchain and smart contracts deployed over ethereum blockchain network. Although blockchain provides an immutable network for supply chain events, it still lacks in solving major problems like accountability, traceability and credibility of supply chain events. Therefore, there is a need of reliable system that ensures traceability, trust, trading and delivery mechanism in Agri-Food supply chain. All transactions in the proposed scheme are uploaded to blockhain; while, it ultimately uploads the data to Interplanetry File Storage System (IPFS). The storage system returns a hash of the data which is stored on blockchain and ensures efficient, secure and reliable solution. Futhermore, simulations and evaluation of smart contracts along with the secuirty and vulnerability analyses are also presented in this work.
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Data sharing is a fascinating in-vehicle service which provide multiple benefits to the vehicle users in the Vehicular Ad-hoc Networks (VANETs). One of the interesting in-vehicle services is advertisement sharing in VANETs which enable advertisers to market their products and services in the areas of the users interest. With the help of Blockchain (BC) technology, the vehicle users can also participate in the ads dissemination process to gain monetary incentives. However, the existing BC based VANET schemes suffer from privacy, security and efficiency issues. Zero Knowledge Proof of Knowledge (ZKPoK) and certificate-less cryptography are used in the existing schemes to enable fair incentive provision and privacy preservation. These schemes incur high computational cost on the resource constrained vehicles. Moreover, the lack of conditional anonymity in the existing schemes makes the system vulnerable to internal attacker scenario. Furthermore, VANETs require secure and efficient reputation verification mechanism to prevent replay attacks and reduce the storage cost. Additionally, the reliance on a centralized entity for the certificate revocation makes the system wide open to the single point of failure vulnerability. To overcome these issues, a BC based secure, efficient and conditional anonymity enabled scheme is proposed. Elliptic Curve Digital Signature based pseudonym update mechanism is employed to enable conditional anonymity and trace malicious vehicles. InterPlanetary File System is used to efficiently store the vehicles' reputation information and reduce the storage overhead. Moreover, the Shamir Secret Sharing algorithm is used to enable distributed revocation. Security analysis is performed to show that the proposed scheme is secure against multiple known attacks. The simulation results show the effectiveness and practicality of the proposed scheme.
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Distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) have the potential to transform the global food system by introducing important efficiency gains along value chains, and improving trust, transparency, and traceability. While large actors are likely to make fast and significant inroads in exploiting DLTs, small farmers and processors also stand to reap significant benefits, provided the technology is made accessible to them. This paper seeks to make an initial contribution to the emerging public debate on this issue by providing an overview of DLTs and their application in food and agriculture, examining public policy implications for food security and rural development, and identifying some potential challenges, risks, and the way forward.
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