The recent rise in safe foods is a matter of considerable public concern. This growing demand for safe foods has given rise to the increased production of organic foods worldwide. According to the International Trade Center, as of 2006, there were approximately 10,000 certified organic producers in the U.S. The organic farmers h ave steadily increased ever since , being accompanied by the growth of U.S. organic industry with approximately 20 percent per year for more than 10 years.
Organic food crops trade is also expanding across Asia. Expanding middle-classes, hence, the rise in consumer’s purchasing power and their increasing demand for safe foods are powerfully driving forces for increased organic foods . The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements IFOAM (2011) reported that the total arable land for organic production in Asia is about 3 .6 million hectares, constituting ten percent of the world’s organic arable land . There were 1.8 million producers in 2009, a 31 % increase compared to 2008, and 40 % of the world’s organic producers reside in Asia.
Food industry targets some specificit ies for its quality control : e.g., Shelf life of raw materials and product perishability; duration of production ; product seasonality; the product’s physical properties (taste, odor, appearance, and size); transportation - and storage - conditions ; product safety issues; and natural conditions affecting the quantity and the quality of farm products. These specificities are also very useful index for the quality control of organic agricultural products , and may become indispensable tools for the efficient m anagement of the supply chain of organic foods in terms of the proper combination of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). The proper use of ICTs in supply chain management (SCM) can lead to reduced costs, increasing feedback from various stakeholders and so forth.
ICT s have already been used in various wholesale/ retail sectors such as supermarkets and convenient stores in developing and developed Asian countries. For instance, consumers’ purchasing pattern of organic products enables the retailers to provide a lot of relevant information on people’s behavior toward organic foods, so that they can, at once, send a feedback regarding these data for the distributors and producers of organic products.
The international as well as national environments surrounding the agriculture sector is getting severer year by year because of economic globalization, increased competitiveness of other sectors, increased extreme weather due to climate change, aging of farmers and lack of young breadwinners and so forth. More than 80 % of Asian farmers are small-scale. The competitions with and within, other sectors and the agriculture sector, respectively become more severe, making the small-scale Asian farmers more vulnerable. In the people’s awareness of organic product benefits, a smart use of ICT in this field is increasingly important to revitalize the agricultural sector, and improve the farmer’s livelihood, particularly those small-scale farmers. There are quite a few success schemes of smart application of ICT to the Supply Chain Management (SCM) of large-scale food industries, so that it is a matter of urgency to establish a smart scheme of ICT application to SCM of small-scale organic food industry and small-scale organic farmers.