Regional

Does the National Animal ID and Traceability System work?

Monday, December 11, 2017

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CATTLE operations manager at International Poultry Breeders in St Ann, Norman Williams, is suggesting that the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) conduct a more forceful public education campaign on the National Animal Identification and Traceability System (NAITS).

Williams said that NAITS, which is being implemented by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries to tag bovine animals, is being misconstrued by some farmers to be a preventative measure for praedial larceny.

“NAITS was really designed as a system to check the quality of the product exported. For example, if you export to Trinidad and Tobago and the Trinidadian says that the beef isn't good, the ministry can take samples of that product and check the DNA on it and you will know which farm in Jamaica that animal came from,” he explained, adding that it is more of a traceability tool.

At the same time, he said although it is designed for traceability, in some instances it can be used to catch thieves.

“For live animals it will work as a praedial larceny tool, but thieves are not moving with live animals. The other thing is that even if they cut out the carcasses and carry it with them, they won't have any documentation with them to verify where this animal came from,” Williams told the Jamaica Observer North & East last Tuesday during a visit to his St Ann office.

He explained that when animals are sold, the purchaser is given the passport for that animal.

“So, if they don't have this passport and they are travelling with the animal they are going to be in serious problems. So it's really a question of apprehension. It should be intelligence-driven. So if you know you're in an area like that you set up your roadblocks.

“To answer the question, I think it has a place; I don't think that it is useless, but it has to be backed up now by apprehension,” the manager said.

Meanwhile, Williams said that the company has lost animals to thieves in the past, but that this year only one animal has gone missing after security was beefed up.

“This is one cow out of 300. In light of what is happening around us with our neighbours we consider ourselves lucky,” he said.

Williams explained that there is a security system in place where guards patrol the property at nights.

“All our main gates are locked and we have installed new gates even inside the property. The reason we do that is so we can hold them up. We also try our best to count our animals as often as we can. When you run a very big operation, you can lose animals and not be quite sure that you've lost them. So we do this very often,” he shared, noting that all their animals are a part of NAITS.

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