Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, the Hon Karl Samuda, has reiterated his commitment to the revitalisation of the dairy industry, noting that currently Jamaica only supplies about 50% of the milk consumed annually. He was speaking at the launch of the National Animal Identification System (NAITS) Publicity Campaign at Serge Island Dairies Limited in Seaforth, St. Thomas, on Friday, February 10.
In lamenting the poor policy decisions of the 1990s that led to a decline in the dairy industry, Minister Samuda applauded Serge Island for its efforts, initiative and use of technology in leading the drive towards restoration of the industry and urged all the players in the sector to work with a renewed sense of urgency to revive the industry.
The agriculture minister also urged the Ministry “go in search of new breeds” that are able to provide larger volumes of milk to supply the demand.
In launching the ‘Tag It and Trace It’ campaign, Minister Samuda said the NAITS programme was a good and valuable one and urged everyone to continue to support its implementation, which was made possible by the enactment of the Animals (Diseases and Importation) (Marking of Bovine Animals) Regulations, 2015.
The system makes it a legal requirement for all farms and establishments owning cattle to be registered and for the cattle to be affixed with NAITS ear tags and issued with cattle passports. The identification and registration system incorporates information on the animal’s identity, ownership, geographical location and movement activity. All information gathered will be stored electronically under the control of the Director of Veterinary Service Division, who is the designated registrar by law.
NAITS will not only serve as a deterrence to praedial larcenists, said Dr. Osbil Watson, chief veterinary officer at the Ministry, but will ensure that the public health inspector at the point of slaughter can identify that it is a legitimate transaction as the animal would have two ear tags and a passport verifying the farm from which it originated.
To date, over US$550,000 has been spent under the Inter-American Development Bank-funded programme through the Agricultural Competitiveness Programme and more than 9,000 heads of cattle identified in the parishes of St. Ann, St. Catherine, St. James and St. Mary.
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