Livestock sector stakeholders have come up with animal identification and traceability regulations that are set to be tabled in Parliament to become law under the Animal Health Act of 2019.
The regulations will ensure that Kenyans do not consume toxic products from animals that have been on treatment and as well curb the cattle rustling menace since the rules would govern the sector in future.
According to the National Chairman, Kenya Veterinary Association, Dr. Samuel Kahariri, the proposed Livestock Identification and Traceability system will enable the government to keep a record of each animal and also enable its tracking in case it is lost.
“The move will identify each and every animal and trace it back to the owner, as well as link the identification to its last treatment whether it is alive or all the way to its products,” he said on |Tuesday.
Dr. Kahariri said that the move would help to trace products for the market, therefore guaranteeing consumers safety and food security.
Addressing journalists after the forum that brought together directors of veterinary services and livestock production from 19 Counties, Dr. Kahariri said that the move seeks to phase out the old way of animal identification through branding using hot iron which cannot guarantee unique identification of each animal.
“We are replacing the traditional identification branding with an electronic system of where microchips and if need be, further manually identify them using ordinary ear tags, said the chairman.
Dr Kahariri added that the system will also adequately address the usual cattle rustling menace, as any animals whose ownership is in doubt can easily be traced back to its valid owner electronically.
He noted that the regulations will outlaw the cutting off of livestock ears, particularly the left ear on which the identification micro-chips will be placed on the animals.
Dr. Kahariri noted that similar forums will be held in Nakuru and Voi in order to ensure that stakeholders’ views are well publicised.
The Mandera West MP, Adan Hajj Yusuf who represented the Pastoralist Parliamentary Group (PPG) in his capacity as the chairman of the livestock sector committee said that the regulations which are now at the public participation stage will bring the much needed sanity in the livestock sector.
Adan noted that the only way to stop cattle rustling which has become rampant in the region was through such individual animal identification, adding that the practice has mutated from customary practices into commercial activity.
The legislator said that the regulations will also help the government in planning, as the exact number of animals in the country would be known and in respective counties, therefore enabling them to budget appropriately for the veterinary drugs they take and also for marketing purposes.
Adan added that the old practice of animal identification through branding with hot iron does not observe animal welfare as the animals are hut in the process, while one symbol is used by a whole clan therefore an animal cannot be identified individually and traced to the owner.
He said that with support from the Pastoralist Parliamentary Group which comprises of 108 members of parliament from 15 pastoralist counties, the regulations will be well received on the floor of the house when the legislators come back from a two months’ recess, adding that he expects the proposals to become law by June next year.
The Livestock Sector Manager at the Kenya Markets Trust, Dr. Boniface Kaberia noted that the new system is the best move to assure consumers of the safety of the products they are consuming while also benefitting livestock owners through sale of undamaged hides and skins.
He added that the old way of identification through branding caused damage to skins, therefore attracting less cash value in the market.
By David Nduro