Rustenburg - The North West province will soon upgrade the paper-based system of tracing animals to a modern and computerised livestock identification and traceability system, (LITS).
This is in an effort to align the agricultural sector of the North West province with the developments in technologies globally.
According to the spokesperson of the department of agriculture and rural development in North West, Emelda Setlhako, LITS is a national information technology database system that would be used to trace animals and animal products from farm to fork or plate.
“The system traces not only the origin of animals but also chemicals that animals have been subjected to. It has a great recompense to use in that it helps disease control. With this technology, one can prevent or know ahead of time, the disease status of animals that are allowed to come into the province,“ she said.
“The system can also significantly reduce response time during animal disease outbreak by helping to contain the introduction and spread of contagious diseases.”
Speaking at the North West Provincial Legislature last week, during the department’s budget vote, Agriculture and Rural Development MEC Desbo Mohono said the introduction of LITS technologies within the agricultural supply chain promises not only increased efficiencies through enhanced data management and more robust traceability but also enhanced food safety protocols.
“The use of LITS will also open up exotic markets for farmers that were previously closed because of lack of tracing and identifying of the origin of animals and animal products by the farm where elementary activities can be accounted for. The system will help to monitor the use of banned substances and antibiotics.
“For all of these reasons, the introduction of this system will benefit all animal and food producers and processors,” Mohono said.
She said the process has started where operators were being registered on the national database. This would be followed by registering farms and facilities before individual animals were registered.
The system was expected to provide information on animals and animal products and a reliable monitoring mechanism that will strengthen the government’s regulatory function in the livestock sub-sector.
Mohono also said the department would embark on a process of digitising the administration of its veterinary laboratory services which would be done through the introduction of Laboratory Information Management Systems.
She further stated the department would appoint 443 assistant agricultural advisers on a three-year contract to bolster its extension and advisory services.
“Extension and advisory services is the coalface platform for the department’s interaction, liaison and support to farmers and communities. Agricultural advisory through this service are at the forefront of service delivery and are the face of the sector to clients and the public,” Mohono said.
“They play an important role as information intermediaries between scientists and farmers, translating, and adding value to agronomic and economic information of use in agricultural management decision making.”
An amount of R11.1 million from the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme would be used for appointing of assistant agricultural advisers.