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US$ 5 million livestock traceability project gets under way in Georgia

Improved standards for food safety and animal health should make Georgia’s agriculture sector more competitive. That is exactly the objective of a new US$5 million project launched recently by FAO and Georgia’s Ministry of Agriculture.

The four-year project – financed by the Swiss Development Cooperation and the Austria Development Agency – will facilitate the establishment of a European Union-compliant national system for identification, registration and traceability of cattle, small ruminants and pigs.

Participating in last week’s project launch event were Georgia’s Minister of Agriculture Levan Davitashvili, Swiss Cooperation Office Regional Director Olivier Bürki, Austrian Development Agency representative Nikoloz Grdzelidze, and FAO Representative for Georgia Raimund Jehle.

“There is an increasing interest in animal identification and recording systems worldwide and we are glad to be in line with EU requirements in this direction,” Davitashvili said. “The main driving force for implementing such a system in Georgia is improvement of animal health with a focus on epidemic diseases, disease prevention, zoonosis and food safety.”

Under the new system, all cattle, pigs, and small ruminants such as sheep and goats will each receive a unique identification code inscribed on an ear tag or other ID device. For each animal, a document bearing the animal ID code will be issued. In the case of cattle, for example, a passport showing the animal’s ownership and movement history. Farms and other holdings, market centres, border Information posts, and slaughterhouses will also be given unique codes. All information on animals and animal holdings will be stored in the central database.

The project – funded by the Swiss Development Cooperation and co-funded by the Austrian Development Agency – will be implemented by FAO in close collaboration with the National Food Agency of Georgia’s Ministry of Agriculture.

“We are delighted to support the Government of Georgia in this important initiation,” said Olivier Bürki, Regional Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office in Georgia. “A fully functional national animal identification and traceability system in Georgia will bring enormous potential for improving animal health in the country.”

FAO will take a major role, supporting the National Food Agency in establishing and implementing the new system, and making sure all slaughterhouses, border inspection posts, markets and other users receive the necessary training to use the system correctly.

“The animal identification project will lead to improved animal health and reduced food risks,” said FAO’s Jehle. “This in turn will facilitate access to regional and international markets, leading to higher income for farmers.”

Individually identified and registered animals allows for many activities in the livestock sector such as enhanced access to markets, performance recording, breeding, proof of ownership, theft prevention and even increased awareness of the animal’s value. As a result of adequate management, animal performance is improved.

23 November 2016, Tbilisi, Georgia

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