AGA IN ACTION
Animal identification as the entry point to traceability and performance recording
Regional workshop on animal identification and recording systems for traceability and livestock development in countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, 5-7 December 2011, Santiago, Chile
Identification and recording of animals have been traditionally practiced for herd management and genetic improvement. Nowadays traceability has become another important utility attached to animal identification. Animal identification, recording and traceability are addressed by various international agreements and standards.
In collaboration with the International Committee for Animal Recording (ICAR) and the Pan-American Dairy Federation (FEPALE), FAO organized a regional workshop entitled "Animal identification and recording systems for traceability and livestock development in countries of Latin America and the Caribbean" which took place from 5 to 7 December 2011, at the FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean. It was attended by more than 120 representatives of international organizations and the public and private sectors from 27 countries. "This is a good example of the public-private partnership promoted by FAO" said Badi Besbes, the organizer of this event.
The workshop provided a comprehensive assessment of the status and trend of animal identification, traceability and performance recording in Latin America. Several countries have initiated the development of national animal identification, movement control and traceability systems, triggered by capturing of export opportunities, animal health or other objectives.
Unique identification of animals is the basis from which governments know the number of stock in their territory and from which other systems such as traceability can be developed.
The workshop outlined the close link between identification and traceability for zoosanitary purposes and the numerous additional benefits such as performance recording for breeding and better herd management that directly benefit small-scale farming. Awareness about these benefits need to be raised and the capacity of national competent authorities strengthened to fully exploit these opportunities. However, in Latin America so far, there has been little consideration of species other than cattle, products other than meat or milk, or uses other than traceability.
It became obvious that animal identification, traceability and performance recording address both public and private goods, leading to different roles of the state and the private sector. Strong institutions and national partnerships of producers and government agencies are needed to set up traceability or recording systems where roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. The aspects related to public goods, especially public health, food safety and food security, require governments to develop systems, the necessary infrastructure, regulation and controls. The private goods, expressed in improved market access, genetic stock and farm management, accrues to many actors along the value chain. They are therefore requested to contribute to the costs incurred. Ing Margoth Hernandez, Subsecretaria de Ganaderia de Ecuador explained that by 2012, Ecuador will invest more than 8.4 Million USD in the development of a identification and traceability system, in which 80% are covered by the government and 20% by the private sector. Dr Armin Hamann Bugs, Viceministro de Ganaderia del Paraguay highlighted that the development of a traceability system for export is supported by the European Commission, however, the government fully supports animal identification and the development of a "registro de agricoltura familiar", to improve food security, income generation and the gradual development of market access. The distribution of costs and benefits needs to be assessed before implementing animal identification, traceability and performance recording systems, as they differ between countries and value chains.
The workshop discussed the technical and legal elements for the design and strategic planning of animal identification and traceability system. It noted that producers of devices should take their applicability in different production systems into account.
Recognizing the crucial role of animal identification, traceability and performance recording systems in livestock sector development, the workshop recommended that FAO supports countries in Latin America in the development and implementation of national systems, as well as their harmonization across countries, in collaboration with other international and regional organizations.