The Ministry of Agriculture is phasing out the use of bolus system from the beginning of January, 2013 and will replace it with an electronic ear tag coupled with an analogue.
This was said by the Minister of Agriculture, Christian De Graaff, when addressing chairpersons of Farmers Associations this week.
Though he said bolus has advantages, such as being secure in the animal, and has a high retention rate, its disadvantages are that government will still have to avail resources such as transport and manpower to insert bolus.
Farmers in places where bolus were used for identification of cattle had been complaining that veterinary officers are, most of the time, not available when they need their assistance to insert bolus.
He explained that with electronic ear tags, it will be easier as farmers will buy and apply the electronic ear tags themselves and, afterwards, can visually identify their cattle from a distance. Besides, he said that ear tags will use the infrastructure currently used for bolus as such there will be no additional costs to the government.
Furthermore, the electronic ear tags could be used nationally, including in areas that are currently classified as Foot and Mouth areas and can assist traceability for disease control purposes.
He said that its disadvantages are that the ear tag can be removed deliberately, damaged or lost and that, unlike bolus, they cannot be reused or recycled and that thieves might cut them out. The system is apparently under use in Namibia.
Asked if the European Union, which has delisted Botswana for lack of proper identification of cattle, approves of this form of cattle identification, Botswana Meat Commission Public Relations Officer, Tiro Kganela, referred all questions to the Ministry of Agriculture.