INATrace is a digital solution that puts the focus on people. Designed to establish transparent global supply chains in order to improve the economic circumstances of smallholders, INATrace provides end-to-end traceability that ensures fair payment.

In today’s highly fragmented market for traceability solutions, INATrace is created with the needs of the people at the beginning of supply chains in mind. At the same time, it helps corporations in consuming countries to meet growing due diligence obligations. You can start using INATrace instantly to make your own supply chain traceable. Our main goal, however, is to collaboratively develop INATrace into a precisely tailored solution for any supply chain, make different products transparently traceable and at the same time create added value in terms of development policy – that is, added value for the people who produce the raw materials none of us would want to do without.

In Rwanda, coffee farmers are achieving higher prices that allow them to fund e.g. major purchases. INATrace saves information on the prices paid, establishing transparency regarding sales. (© Kaffeekooperative)

What can INATrace do for you?

When Germany’s Corporate Due Diligence in Supply Chains Act comes into force, processing, wholesale and retail companies will be held responsible for their own supply chains. Respect for human rights especially at the beginning of global supply chains is an essential requirement. INATrace helps you make your supply chains digitally traceable. Use INATrace to collect information on production conditions along the supply chain, access entered data in real time and analyse them. This requires knowledge of the actors along the supply chain.

Above all, however, INATrace is a development policy tool that you can actively help shape. Expertise on supply chains and close ties to policy-makers are already built into INATrace. What we need are further partners in business and IT who would like to offer added value for people who farm raw materials such as coffee, cocoa, natural rubber or palm oil by giving them better control of their data and empowering them to achieve fair prices when they sell their products.

By actively helping to shape INATrace you will be promoting trust and security between trading partners and making your supply chain efficient and future-proof. And most importantly, you can show your customers that they are consuming products that were made without exploiting people.

INATrace in use

In cooperation with the International Women’s Coffee Alliance, INATrace has so far been successfully implemented for a supply chain of Rwandan women’s coffee cooperatives. That means the path of the coffee produced by women in Rwanda is digitally mapped – along with information on the quality of the coffee, the prices paid and the involved actors such as cooperatives and roasting companies. By scanning a QR code on the packaging, end customers can access this information at the supermarket and trace their product all the way back to the field in which it was grown. For more information about the project, please visit the website of this Rwandan success story.

Further use cases are in the planning stages and will be available here soon. We would be happy to publish your application example on this page too. If you are interested, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

How does INATrace work?


INATrace maps every process step and transaction from the farmer to the final product. Process steps and supply chain structures are fully customisable in the user interface. You can download individualised QR codes for your products that let consumers trace the entire supply chain with their smartphone. The front end can be customised to offer consumers access to product information through a web app. This includes a feedback function that enables bidirectional communication and a precise and fast response to complaints.

What technology is INATrace based on?


INATrace is a blockchain-based technology that stores transaction data and payments in its back end. We intend to implement the use of a blockchain based on multiple servers in the future. INATrace uses the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain technology, a private blockchain with a rigid data security and access concept that consumes fairly low amounts of energy compared to public blockchain technologies.

A two-party verification system is implemented for transactions. In addition to transaction and origin data, the system can currently map a variety of sustainability attributes as well as cup quality and certificates.

If you would like to help develop INATrace, you can access the source code here: to source code


Why blockchain technology?

The blockchain technology we employ allows users to contribute to INATrace as equals. The blockchain as a decentralised “data base” gives cooperatives and people at the beginning of supply chains ownership of their data.

It also increases transparency and trust through unmodifiable data/data changes, manipulation safety and encryption.

What about the energy the blockchain consumes?


Blockchains are often linked to very high energy consumption. INATrace however uses similar amounts of energy to centralised databases. Where otherblock chains (such as the technology used for Bitcoin) are based on what is known as “proof of work”, the Hyperledger Fabric technology used by INATrace applies the “proof of stake” mechanism, which requires less energy.

The number of active users and nodes in the network also affects the energy consumption of a blockchain.

What are the benefits of INATrace?


INATrace is open source, meaning it provides easy and affordable access. At the same time, any user can view and further optimise the code.

INATrace stands for flexibility: users are not dependent on a provider; INATrace can be flexibly adapted to a variety of objectives and developed in any direction you choose; it can also be adapted to other contexts and supply chains; and there are no licensing fees.

Interoperability is a major feature of INATrace: merchandise management systems and farm management systems can be integrated through various APIs.

What is INATrace’s position on data and data security?


A variety of actors (e.g. producers, cooperatives, exporters or processing companies) can enter data via the INATrace website. When you first set up INATrace, you can import basic data such as farmer or corporate profiles; these data are then stored in cloud-based nodes and entering them becomes part of a daily routine, which can ideally increase efficiency. Transactions are performed using a two-party verification system that minimises erroneous data input.

Data protection is a fundamental aspect of INATrace: each party always has access to its own data and can make them available to other actors through sharing agreements.

How can you use INATrace for your supply chain?


INATrace is published as open-source software under a GNU Affero General Public License (GNU AGPL) v3.0. This means you can freely use and customise the system; if you develop it further in any way you are however required to publish your code under the same open-source licence so that other companies and organisations can also make use of it. This is intended to ensure that INATrace is continuously maintained and developed further for the benefit of a broad public. It could for example be adapted from coffee to other agricultural raw materials.

Installing and maintaining INATrace requires technical expertise, so you may have to collaborate with a technical service provider.

What is a blockchain?


Blockchain technology represents a sequence of digital records that are linked by a digital chain. Block chain solutions store all data points and transactions in a decentralised manner, making them tamper-proof. This is done by cryptographically chaining the individual records, each of which is added to the previous block by means of a private and a public key. Each new block integrates the transaction history of the previous link in the chain and encodes a new digital fingerprint. Blockchains can be continued indefinitely; there is no limit to the number of times a new block can be added to the end of the chain. Block chains thus verify every transaction and enable transparent representation of, for example, supply chains.

What are the necessary steps for implementing INATrace?


Common process steps for implementing INATrace are:

1. Supply chain mapping: Identifying all relevant process steps from field to shelf and naming the involved actors

2. System adjustments: Configuring the INATrace back end to suit the respective context (e.g. process steps in the supply chain, language), customising the front-end design (e.g. website for QR code) and, where applicable, integrating INATrace with your company’s merchandise management systems

3. Data collection and basis data entry: Collecting data on producers (potentially importing these data from Excel lists or the like)

4. Training: Training relevant actors along the supply chain in the use of INATrace

5. Backstopping through helpdesk and continuous technical support

If you would like to use INATrace, please contact us. We are happy to help and would be interested in further use cases.

Additional background documents, information on the solution’s back end and training material are available here:

INATrace documentation