The Ministry of Agriculture has in a bid to keep up with European Union legislation market importation requirements successfully tagged 1,979,799 cattle from an expected 2,242,000 in the entire Foot and Mouth Disease free zone.
According to Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Geoffrey Pheko the tagging of cattle was started after recommendations made in 2010. The 2010 review also recommended the phasing out of bolus through a transition from using of bolus as a primary identifier to ear tags.
Pheko told Sunday Standard this week that the Phase II of the development is the use of combo tags (pair electronic and analogue), which was launched in August 2014 following completion of the system enhancement to accommodate these changes. To date, Pheko said, 148,490 combo tags have been bought by farmers from Livestock Advisory Centers. Out of this 57,393 have been tagged and registered in the system. The target is all cattle over the age of six (6) months for the combo tagging.
On who is doing the job, Pheko said that for the linkage of bolus and analogue tags, tagging and linkage is done by the Department of Veterinary Services, while farmers are trained on tagging technique and registration of used tags in the system. To date 57,393 cattle have been combo tagged. Pheko explained that the projects are done in order to enhance active stakeholder participation, reduce heavy reliance of the system from Government, increase financial sustainability of the system through cost saving recovery measures such sale of tags and associated ear tag application equipment.
Because of this new development, farmers now have access to the system to register used tags, notify cattle mortality, update their keeper details, request for import or export permit and transfer ownership. The programme however is said to be facing challenges as most farmers have been buying combo tags and not applying them. As such, Pheko said there are enough tags in stock for the next two (2) years.
He added that a technical team has been assigned to undertake a situational analysis and recommend corrective measures, some of which are being implemented. On whether cattle in Ngamiland are also being ear tagged, Pheko explained that Ngamiland falls within the FMD vaccination zone with Nata, Kasane and Selebi-Phikwe.
“Livestock identification and traceability system was extended to the FMD vaccination zone but it was only stopped subsequent to FMD outbreaks in Ngamiland (2007). The transition and combo tagging is also being rolled out to FMD vaccination zone, so far transition has been rolled out to Nata from April 2015 and it will be rolled out in late 2015 to the rest of the FMD vaccination.”