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With the aim of boosting export of livestock, a sector that has been performing well below its potential, the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, with the financial support of the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the Ethiopian Livestock Identification and Traceability System.
Once fully implemented, the system will help to gather information regarding source/origin of the animal, type of husbandry, and management system in place resulting in quality products for consumers and increased incomes of farmers.
“The system marks a turning point in the livestock sector of Ethiopia because animal identification and traceability are important factors for livestock market in today’s global market. This traceability system will promote the growth of a commercial livestock sector capable of competing in both domestic and international markets,” said Stephen Morin, representative of USAID Ethiopia.
The program was established through USAID’s livestock sector market improvement pilot project and it is worth 32 million Birr. It tracks animals using tamper-proof plastic twin ear tags. The tags capture relevant data regarding source of the animal, necessary measures in place to control and prevent occurrence of major animal diseases, and medical and diagnostic data necessary to ensure the animal’s health and the quality of its meat.
“It is a requirement to be able to export livestock. Countries such as Saudi Arabia have asked been requesting we meet this requirement. The plan is to put all livestock that are set for export to be in the traceability system in the next five years,” said Dr. Hadgu Mendefro, Livestock Identification, Traceability and Welfare Directorate Director, Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries.
It is stated that all recorded data is stored in a central database server, which is housed inside the ministry’s data center. The system will make it possible to improve the quality and quantity of the Ethiopian livestock and livestock products destined for export markets.
“We believe that once we implement this program fully, we will increase our export destinations. Right now we export to the Middle East and we expect this program to open doors to new export destinations such as the Far East,” Dr. Hadgu said.
Although Ethiopia comes at the top for livestock resource in Africa, the livestock export sector has been performing well below expected. This new system is expected to remedy that.
When we look at meat export, we can see that it has been improving; our export abattoirs have a high standard and have increased in number. On the other hand, exporting live animals is something we really need to work on, that sector has been performing poorly,” Dr. Hadgu pointed out.