Reluctance to register animals under NAITS causes setback
FARMERS IN Kingston and St Andrew (KSA) continue to be reluctant in registering their livestock with the National Animal Identification and Traceability System (NAITS) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Mining.
This concern was raised by Ricardo Miller, an animal health technician for the parish. In an interview with The Gleaner on Saturday, Miller said that while he could estimate that roughly 80 per cent of the KSA region under his supervision had complied and registered into the system, there remained a pervasive misconception that the Government wished to seize control of people’s livestock, impose taxes on them and control their business through the NAITS programme.
The NAITS, which was launched in 2014, involves components such as registration, identification, recording and reporting. It provides all the capabilities of identifying all registered animals with their owner or establishment and is responsible to replace ear tags if damaged or lost.
The cattle passport (movement document) includes the date of birth, sex, animal identification code, among other identifying information, which is recorded in a computerised database.
Newborn animals must be tagged within the first seven days of life.
The NAITS programme targets all owners of cattle, operators of abattoirs or slaughterhouses and operators of livestock markets and showgrounds.
“We are not here to take from you, we are just here to help you become a better farmer,” he said of the programme which is free of cost to farmers, as he urged them to participate in getting the necessary identifications done.
ENSURING FOOD SAFETY
He noted that the initial purpose of the system was not to combat praedial larceny, but was instead geared towards ensuring food safety, safeguarding the public’s health and to track the movement of animals so as to be more involved in the exportation of local meat.
“But when you look at it, it’s a good thing to integrate it in the praedial larceny because it’s a government programme and it helps to curve certain regulations on the behalf or under the bovine establishment act (The Animals Diseases and Importation Act),” he said, noting that it has also assisted in this regard.
According to Miller, who is also first vice-president of the Veterinary Paramedics Association, unless the farmers became victims of praedial larceny or other circumstances which caused challenges in identifying their animals, they would refuse to tag them.
This, he said, has caused a setback in the programme. However, he is renewing his appeal to farmers not to hold off on using the identifying system until something devastating happens.
“We’re here to ensure that we keep the holistic enhancement of agriculture where it should be – which is [at] the forefront of your economy – because without food you can’t survive and one of the requirements from the US and other countries we would like to export our meat to, it is their requirement to say ‘what is your traceability system? Is medication given to the animal? How do you know where you got the animal from? etcetera’,” he said.
Efforts to gather details on the progress of the NAITS were unsuccessful. Questions posed by The Gleaner since Monday to the ministry’s veterinary services division remained unanswered. Further efforts to contact the division were also made on Wednesday.