The system, which was launched during the annual Minard Livestock and Beef Festival, at Minard Estate, Brown’s Town, St. Ann, will primarily target tagging of the industry’s approximately 60,000 heads of dairy and beef cattle, and the issuing of ‘passports’ to the owners, to document the animals’ bio and genetic data.
Data obtained during the tagging process will be stored in a databank at the Ministry’s Veterinary Services Division, and will facilitate DNA matching and analysis, in the event an animal is stolen, to identify the owner.
The passport will also be used to record the transfer of cattle from one owner to another, and must accompany the animals when they are being transported.
The overall initiative aims to safeguard the quality of meat and other products generated within the industry, for local consumption and export, as well as serve as a deterrent against praedial larceny.
Led by the Agriculture Ministry, the initiative is being implemented in partnership with the Ministries of Health, and Local Government and Community Development; and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
Initial tagging has commenced with 700 heads of cattle at Minard Estate, with the overall exercise slated for completion over the next 12 months.
Speaking at the launch, Mr. Kellier underscored the importance of the NAITS’ implementation, against the background of the need to provide high quality food in safeguarding public health, facilitating trade in food products, and curtailing praedial larceny.
“Food safety and traceability have, largely, been driven by the demands of the export market. However, our own consumers deserve nothing less than safe and healthy food,” the Minister said.
Mr. Kellier stressed the need for farmers to ensure they have the animals’ passports in their possession at all times when they are being transported, pointing out that failure to do so will constitute a breach of the Animals (Diseases and Importation) Act, that governs the animal identification and traceability process.
“This will, therefore, empower the police to prosecute any handler of livestock not in possession of the necessary passport,” he said, stressing that “the code on the passport must correspond with the code on the tags.”
Describing the launch as “historic,” Mr. Kellier pointed out that Jamaica has joined several other countries in implementing a modern animal identification and traceability system.
Notable among these, he pointed out, are several European Union (EU) member states, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Botswana.