Smart Tracking and Tracing: piloting our Biosecurity Emission Levy Information System (BELIS)

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By Gemma Carroll

Potatoes NZ Inc. became incorporated in 2012, previously it had been operating as a product group within Horticulture New Zealand. In June 2013 PNZ started collecting a commodity levy in accordance with the Commodity Levies Act (1990),

Grower members’ records are now being updated with a commodity levy payment record, so that accurate recording of commodity levy collection is achieved. This updating process also includes agents now submitting their levy payments on-line, completing the sales-levy loop. Growers will be able to see the current financial year’s levies in their membership account.

Why the need?

Growers requested that they be able to see a record of the levies paid on their behalf by buyers of potatoes (levy collection agents). Potatoes NZ wanted to be able to verify that levies had in fact been paid and therefore the grower was a verified member of PNZ and had the right to vote.

The work so far.

PNZ has been streamlining the PNZ information systems using the specially developed membership database; Biosecurity Emission Levy Information System known as BELIS. BELIS is being piloted by Potatoes New Zealand this Spring.

Next steps for growers:

  • The database is planned to go live at the end of October after a grower testing phase
  • Growers will receive an email inviting them to login to the membership database
  • Administrative support will be available through Nicola Loach (PNZ Admin Officer)
  • Growers will initially be able to see BCI levies and update staffing and contacts information

The long-term BELIS goals.

BELIS also gives our industry the ability to do so much more than administrative tracking. BELIS is building the capability for crop mapping, and a Certified Seed database. BELIS will eventually provide a seed to plate tracking and tracing tool.

An example of the meaningful benefits of this to growers, is the ability for PNZ information systems to track and report improvements of nutrient management, which are critical to achieving zero emissions. Zero Net Emissions is one of PNZ’s three key strategic objectives.

Providing a digital platform to monitor, report and manage leaching, provides benchmarking to track progress as part of the Sustainable Vegetable Systems project.

BELIS has been developed to incorporate mapping data for biosecurity and traceability reasons, which will improve our readiness and response activities.

Sharing the inter-operable data between existing and planned information systems in a permissioned manner is further envisaged to provide tools for growers and industry to better plan and manage towards farm, industry and national goals.

The linking of crop maps to economic and emissions data reporting has been built in and will come to life in a workstream add-on to the Sustainable Vegetable Systems project (SVS), known as Workstream 6, which will be managed by TrackBack Ltd and involves an alliance with Trust Alliance New Zealand (TANZ). Linking databases where appropriate will streamline the compliance costs and reduce the burden on growers by having information systems that are able exchange data within pre-agreed protocols. There is potential for blockchain technology to use shared data in a permissioned way.


Potato sector data (BELIS) is managed and shared easily through an enabling ecosystem, to participants in the value chain.

Clear data ownership and governance has been built within the potato sector to provide trust and confidence. The data is easy to collect and share, supporting better decision making, generating value and insight within and across the potato value chains. The data ecosystem enables implementation of the Potato Industry Recovery and Transformation Plan.

So how will this data project support the future of our industry?

  • Data will support better decisions for all
  • Data collection effort will be minimized
  • Data will be current, valuable and trusted
  • Data will be used to build trust in the food system
  • Data will further enable and verify industry care for the environment
  • The value of data sharing will be demonstrated and translated into action 
  • There will be strong governance over data
  • There will be good infrastructure (e.g. mobile network access) to enable the use of the tools
  • Data will be secure and used appropriately by all

The direct benefits to growers include:

  • Ensuring grower levies are reported to the grower in a timely and accurate manner
  • Verifying PNZ membership and ability therefore to vote
  • Enabling a self-auditing system which will reduce PNZ compliance costs
  • Enabling growers to add staff to mailing lists
  • Ensuring tracking and traceability of product, emissions and biosecurity (at a later date)

This is an exciting, transformative step for our industry.

We ask potato growers to check their inbox, for the invitation email, to login to BELIS.