Issue 15: Livestock
Africa: Livestock Identification Trace-back System (LITS)
The Botswana Ministry of Agriculture is installing the world's largest radio frequency ID (RFID) system for cattle. New EU regulations aimed at identifying sources of disease require that boneless beef imports be traceable from the packing plant back to the individual animals the meat came from, and that the information be available in a centralized database. For Botswana, the EU is biggest export market for beef, but manual tagging is not practical for the remote kraals and cattle posts. Two companies tm AST Botswana in Gaborone and Inala Identification and Control in South Africa tm are working with the Ministry of Agriculture to design and implement the Livestock Identification Trace-back System (LITS), which will eventually monitor four million head of cattle. A pellet containing a TI-RFid transponder with a unique ID number is inserted into the animal's stomach. This makes it possible for a radio frequency reader to scan the ID number and relay it to a field computer. In addition to enabling Botswana to comply with EU regulations, the LITS system also makes it easier to locate lost or stolen cattle, improves the ability to manage disease outbreaks and lowers costs because the ID pellets can be recycled, according to ministry officials.