The Rural Industries Promotions Company (RIPCO) has developed a Livestock Tracking and Management System (LTMS) which can monitor the health and movement of farm animals through satellite and high speed communication networks technology.
RIPCO Chief Engineer, Zeundjua Tjiparuro, confirmed this before referring interview questions to the Senior Software Engineer responsible for the development of the system.
The Senior Software Engineer, Edmund Otlaadisa, said apart from monitoring the health and movement of livestock, the technology will enable RIPCO to capture and manage livestock information. The engineer is confident that LTMS will help Botswana to comply with European Union (EU) regulations calling for it to record the history of all cattle whose beef is meant for export to EU countries, after the Veterinary Services Livestock Identification and Trace back System (LITS) failed to satisfy the policy.
Otlaadisa said unlike the LITS bolus insertion, the new system will use Global Position System (GPS) collar tags. He said the tags, which are electrical devices, will allow livestock’ current and historical information to be recorded in the RIPCO computer station, through satellite and communication networks.
“The device also allows easy tracking of geographical movement and location of livestock at a particular time. The track report will be displayed in Google maps with drawn virtual fences. The fences will be used to identify disease infected areas,” he said.
“When infected livestock is about to move out of those areas, early alerts, which can be motion alarms or text message, will be sent to the department of veterinary services,” he added. “It will therefore enable agricultural field officers to instantly respond, hence having a better control on livestock disease spread.”
He said that “alerts will also be sent when disease free livestock has got into contact with infected livestock, or has been to the infected zone. LTMS will ensure effective and efficient counter response by field officers to diseases.”
The RIPCO report about the system notes that it will also assist in improving response to livestock theft and loss. “Apart from early alerts of diseases, owners will be notified about theft and loss suspicions. Through this system, RIPCO anticipates reduction of livestock theft, which is a big problem in the country. This will also reduce economical costs the government incurs looking after lost and stolen cattle (matimela),” states the report, which clarified that this will be enabled by split screen view which can review the animal’s route in Google maps.
It added that LTMS will let farmers know grazing behaviour of livestock. “Through this system farmers can get into internet to see an accurate report detailing when their livestock stopped for rest. Based on the average rest time for the animal, too much rest might mean that the livestock is either sick or dead.”
When pressed about when the system will be implemented, Otlaadisa said government is still preparing necessary logistics before it can be put it into use.
Meanwhile, RIPCO has established that the system will face challenges in areas where there is shortage of communication networks.