E Cape Premier launches Livestock Identification and Traceability System

In response to rampant stock theft affecting rural farmers in the Eastern Cape, Premier Oscar Mabuyane recently launched the Livestock Identification and Traceability System (LITS) in Tsolo. This initiative, spearheaded by the provincial government in collaboration with the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (DRDAR) and the Department of Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, aims to curb the theft that has seen over 18,000 animals, valued at more than R58 million, stolen recently.

The technology-based LITS utilizes ear tag devices to provide each animal with a unique identification, facilitating better monitoring and management. Approximately 120 cattle farming enterprises, covering around 30,000 cattle, will benefit from this new system.

During the launch, Premier Mabuyane emphasized the economic impact of livestock theft on subsistence rural farmers, stating that the new system would help organize and commercialize livestock handling more effectively. “We are sending a message to all the thieves out there that we will go after you in a better and more organized manner,” Mabuyane declared.

MEC Nonkqubela Pieters highlighted that LITS would help police and farmers in Tsolo, a high incidence area for stock theft, to verify and trace the ownership of cattle. The system will also support animal health management by maintaining records of medical treatments and facilitating disease traceability.

Additionally, MEC Xolile Nqatha discussed improvements to the local police’s capacity to respond to stock theft, including strategic placement of the stock theft unit and recent successes in recovering stolen livestock and arresting suspects.

Farmers like Sabatha Mnjunju expressed optimism about the new system’s potential to improve the tracking of livestock and aid in recovery if theft occurs. However, some, like Mzimeli Yelo, remain skeptical due to the possibility of thieves removing the ear tags.

The LITS program includes a central database where all ear-tagged animals and their owners’ details are registered, enabling easy tracking of animal movement. In collaboration with the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), DRDAR has trained over 250 professionals, including veterinarians and animal health technicians, to implement and manage the system effectively.

This initiative not only aims to protect the livelihoods of local farmers but also fosters collaboration between the community and law enforcement to enhance security and accountability in the livestock sector.

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