The Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security, has announced that cattle farmers who fail to update with the new Botswana Animals Information and Traceability System could face sanctions of prison term not exceeding 5 years or money not exceeding P5 000 or both.
The new system is meant to help Botswana to meet some of the requirements by the European Union market which inspect the local shores every 2 years.
At some point Botswana was forced to suspend exports to the European Union because of deficiencies identified in the traceability system.
“The auditors concluded that Botswana traceability system is unreliable and that there was no legislation for controlling the new ear tag based animal traceability (BAITS) that we had just started implementing,” said Patrick Ralotsia, the minister of agricultural development and food security.
Ralotsia noted that the EU is worried about incorrect application of ear tags by farmers and fraudulent use of ear tags to move animals from non-EU eligible areas (such as Ngamiland, Boteti and Bobirwa) to eligible areas.
He said farmers should be aware that they all need to register, not just those who wish to export to EU as currently database is not up to date due to poor reporting based on births, deaths, slaughter, movements, transfers and treatments of animals.
“We have made a law in parliament which compels every cattle owner to put ear tags on their cattle. The law add that cattle owners should provide records about their cattle, including records about cattle birth date, where it is born, where it is raised, its vaccination and what it have been fed,” said the minister when addressing a press conference in Gaborone.
Meanwhile he stated that farmers tend to only tag animals they want to sell, the situation which is exacerbated by livestock speculators, butchers and feedlot operators who buy untagged animals and later tag them as their own.
Ralotsia noted that if Botswana fails to adhere to the animal traceability requirements the country could lose its profitable EU export market.