Agri ministry launches animal-tagging system
BROWN'S TOWN, St Ann:
DESCRIBING IT as a critical plank in tracing the movement of meat and meat products from the farm to the fork, Agriculture Minister Derrick Kellier last week Thursday launched the National Animal Identification and Traceability System (NAITS) at the Minard Livestock and Beef Festival in Brown's Town, St Ann.
The launch marks the official start of tagging of approximately 60,000 heads of cattle in Jamaica, with the tagging leading ultimately to the issuance of animal passports, a process which has so far cost the Government $35 million.
"This passport is an instrument used to record critical bio and genetic data of our animals," Kellier explained. "It also records the transfer of animals from one owner to the next."
Kellier said the exercise is underpinned by regulations under the Animal (Diseases and Importation) Act which will make it mandatory for owners of cattle to tag their animals and possess the necessary passport. These regulations will shortly be gazetted, he told the large crowd at the festival.
These regulations will make it illegal for animals to be transported without the accompanying passport. Police will be empowered to prosecute any handler of livestock who is not in possession of the necessary passport.
The process will also include the storing of genetic data at a central databank at the Veterinary Services Division of the Ministry of Agriculture. This will allow for DNA matching and analysis.
The minister pointed out that, with the capacity of the NAITS to trace the movement of animals, it will help combat praedial larceny, a situation farmers at the event welcomed with applause.
The tagging exercise began at Minard and will see the company's 700 heads of cattle being tagged, after which the exercise will move to Orange Hall Estate.
The symbolic tagging of a Jamaica Black, by Rufai Ahmed of the Veterinary Services Division, signalled the launch of the programme.