Livestock farming is vital to Georgia’s agriculture sector. Nearly half of the population lives in rural areas and subsistence farming is commonplace – some 95% of the workforce are small-scale farmers. Improving productivity in this sector is a priority for the government, and setting up a traceability system is an important step. The SDC is supporting the development of a reliable, functioning system to allow small-scale farmers to sustainably improve their incomes by reducing mortality in their herds and gaining better access to regional and international markets for their livestock and animal products.
Setting up an electronic traceability system will help to improve the health of cattle, small grazing livestock and pigs by making preventive vaccination campaigns more effective and speeding up the response to epidemics like foot-and-mouth disease and brucellosis. Such a system also benefits consumer rights as it forms the basis for consistent farm-to-fork traceability and food safety to prevent the sale of products from diseased animals.
The system combines four elements:
- A unique identification code for each animal, which is marked using a suitable method (e.g. identification tag in the ear)
- An official document bearing this code which records the owner and lists the animal’s movements
- An identification code for every establishment, such as farms, border crossings and abattoirs
- A central database which stores this information
To ensure the system runs smoothly, over 700 state and independent veterinary services will be involved in the process and trained to manage the system. An important step will be for them to raise awareness among farmers of the issue of lack of traceability and explain the benefits of the system.
Better regional cooperation
The system will make it easier to trace the movement of livestock in Georgia and beyond the country's borders. It should therefore improve regional cooperation with Armenia and Azerbaijan, with a view to setting up compatible systems in the three countries.
The project firmly ties in with the Georgian government’s agricultural policy, which aims to meet the standards required for exports to the EU. Switzerland will share its experience with the government both in the technical and in the normative and legal aspects of the project, for example regarding the protection of the data gathered.