Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish to welcome you, on behalf of FAO to the Stakeholders’ consultation Workshop on Beef Traceability systems in Thailand.
In recent years, the main forces driving the development of traceability systems for animals and their products have been the concerns about animal and human health. Animal identification for recording (I&R) has a key role to play in addressing global demands for food security and poverty alleviation.
In recent decades, developing countries have overtaken developed countries in total production of meat and eggs, while the gap in milk production is rapidly narrowing. Monogastric production is increasing relative to ruminant production. At the same time, animal production and animal product consumption has moved also from rural to urban and periurban areas. There is also growing awareness among consumers about food safety, quality, animal welfare and the environmental impact of livestock production.
There is now increasing interest worldwide in animal identification and traceability systems, including in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. The main driving force for implementing traceability systems is the protection of human health and food safety.
Animal identification and traceability has many uses. It is necessary for disease control, better farm management, theft control, maintenance of herd books, delivery of health certificates, and for implementing agricultural policies (such as subsidies). It is fundamental to the establishment and maintenance of breed improvement programmes.
A second aspect of traceability is ensuring fair practices in the food trade, as traceability provides protection against deceptive practices and fraud in the market place and unsubstantiated product claims (e.g. geographic indication or food quality). Awareness among consumers about food safety, quality, animal welfare and environmental impact of livestock production, and consumers’ demand to be better informed, have also pushed the competent authorities and private sector towards traceability of animals and their products.
FAO is pleased to have been able to respond to the Thailand government request for technical assistance on animal identification and traceability. The TCP project entitled Enhancement of Beef Productivity through Animal Identification and Traceability which was approved last April this year aims to assess current identification and traceability systems and recommend and pilot test the appropriate system. Putting in place a traceability system and later plan for its expansion is expected to minimize or eliminate the spread of disease as authorities are able to trace origins of diseases, identify farms and animals that may have been affected and take direct appropriate action to minimise further disease spread. In the long run, an identification and traceability system will encourage producers to improve its production practices to the highest standards possible and in return can get a good price for their animals and products.
While the role of national competent authorities is fully recognised, the multipurpose implications of animal identification systems need to be considered and discussed with all relevant stakeholders, to increase their acceptance and the equitable distribution of the costs among all stakeholders. This workshop is an important step in that direction. It is important that stakeholders are made aware of the requirements for animal identification and traceability.
For instance, capacity building is needed to enable standards and schemes to be applied adequately. Taking account of the multipurpose nature of animal identification, FAO’s capacity-building activities rely on an integrated approach that involves all relevant partners and stakeholders.
Enabling policy and legislative frameworks are necessary. Adequate governmental support, both technical and financial, is another prerequisite. An animal identification and traceabilitiy system should be run efficiently and professionally, be matched to the available infrastructure, and take relevant cultural and traditional factors into consideration. It should operate at a low cost and be no more complex than is necessary to ensure its accuracy and integrity. Its implementation should be phased, and implementing institutions should ensure that they have adequate capacity before they embark on the programme. Specialist skills in areas such as information technology, animal identification, recording and technology transfer are vital to its success.
These requirements should be made known to all stakeholders as farmers and livestock keepers will participate in the programme only if it demonstrates real and direct benefits to them.
Let this workshop be a forum for feedback and I encourage you to express your views so we may develop an animal identification and traceability system relevant to your needs.
I wish you a successful workshop.