Gaborone — Livestock owners failing to comply with requirements of the Botswana Animal Information and Traceability System could face a prison term of five years or a fine not exceeding P5 000 or both.
The Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security introduced the system to ensure individual identification of cattle within Botswana in accordance with European Union Council regulations, which requires that beef should be traceable back to the individual animal origin, and a computerised central information system for cattle be put in place.
The system enables livestock data acquisition from remote areas and allows data to be traced back through the processing and supply chain to the source of the product.
Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Mr Patrick Ralotsia expressed concern on June 5 that some cattle out of the 2.5 million found in Botswana did not have ear tags.
He said Parliament had made a law which enforced cattle ear tags and further explained that cattle owners who failed to comply with the law would be punished.
"We have made a law which compels every cattle owner to put ear tags on their cattle. The law further compels cattle owners to provide records about their cattle, including records about cattle vaccination," said the minister when addressing a press conference in Gaborone.
He added that the law compeled farmers to register locations of their cattle kraals so that cattle origins could be easily traceable through the system.
He further said the law compeled every cattle owner to have a Keeper Identity Card which would show that they had cattle and were therefore permitted to buy ear tags for their livestock.
He said the ear tags had unique identification number for individual cattle and were accompanied by relevant profile information about the cattle.
He said if Botswana failed to adhere to the animal traceability requirements the country could lose its lucrative EU export market.
Permanent secretary in the ministry, Mr Jimmy Opelo stated that adhering to traceability requirements would also assist farmers to search for their cattle when they had gone missing.
The ministry's deputy permanent secretary for technical services, Dr Letlhogile Modisa said it would be unlawful for cattle over three months old not to have ear tags.
He added that farmers would not be allowed to stockpile ear tags as a precautionary measure against criminal activities.
He further said it would be unlawful for an ear tag to be removed from a cow.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>