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“International trade partners and consumers increasingly insist on a traceability system in the livestock industries, and it has also become necessary in terms of market access, whether locally or internationally,” says James Faber, chairperson of the national Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (RPO).

“The need for traceability systems has now become imperative because of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD),” Faber says. The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), in co-operation with the livestock industries, already made significant progress with the development of a livestock identification and traceability system (LITS) system.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) developed the system, and the testing phase is currently taking place in the FMD endemic areas. Although work is continuously being done in terms of the LITS system with the involvement of the industries, it will take a long time to implement it comprehensively.

Voluntary participation is key

“The need to kick-start with a practical voluntary system has become of critical importance,” adds Faber. On the initiative of the RPO, representatives of the livestock industries and private service providers recently convened with the aim of commencing with a practical voluntary system.

The initiative will initially focus on individual animal identification with unique ear tag numbers and will be urgently implemented in the cattle and small stock industries. The numbers will also be linked with the detail of the owner and the farm. Producers will make use of private service providers who are already delivering services and will also pay for the services themselves.

Read more about why traceability is paramount here.

It is envisaged that commercial producers will participate on a voluntary basis and the state will take responsibility for the implementation of a system in the developing sector. The livestock industries will, in collaboration with the private service providers, establish criteria which must be adhered to in order to render the system functional.

It will be imperative that the information systems of the private service providers be integrable with the LITS system. However, producers must ensure that service providers comply with the International Centre of Animal Registration. Criteria which service providers will have to fulfil will soon be finalised and announced.

“The implementation of the systems will pave the way for the establishment of a complete traceability system in collaboration with the state in the future. Producers participating in the system should insist on a premium,” says Faber.

The implementation of the system enjoys the full support of the state and will most likely lead to a private/public partnership. The initiative will be driven by the primary red meat cluster consisting of the RPO, National Emergent Red Meat Producers’​ Organisation, SA Feedlot Association and the Red Meat Abattoir Association. – Press release, Red Meat Producers’ Organisation