State looks to digital IDs for livestock in drive to improve meat production

Meat Expo

Participants sample delicacies at the Camp David Butchery stand during the Kenya Meat Expo at KICC Nairobi on June 12, 2024.

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

The national government has embarked on plans to implement a new record-keeping system to improve livestock production.

Under the Livestock Identification and Traceability System, livestock farmers will receive a digital identification (ID) for their animals, which will enable them to monitor feeding and disease control measures such as deworming, tick control, and vaccinations.

Livestock Development Principal Secretary Jonathan Mueke said a tender for the supply of the IDs has been floated, with the system scheduled to be operational within the next few months.

“Farmers will be given a digital ID for their animals, which will enable them to present a certificate detailing their livestock rearing practices to slaughterhouses, thus ensuring that they get a fair price for their livestock,” Mueke said in a speech delivered during the official opening of the third edition of the Kenya Meat Expo

Conference at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi on Wednesday.

The PS described the digital as a game-changer, saying, it will also help curb the cattle-rustling menace.

Mr Mueke added that the system will align the local livestock supply chain to the global food traceability standard.

“Globally traceability is extremely important for food items and countries are not going to import your products if you can’t trace them to the farm from where they came from,” he said.

Traceability enables one to follow the movement of a food item through different stages of production, processing and distribution.

Traceability within food control systems is applied as a tool to control food hazards, provide reliable product information and guarantee product authenticity.

Global traceability systems require all players along the supply chains to have effective practices in place that allow for the rapid identification, location, and withdrawal of food and products lots when problems are suspected or confirmed.

Nation Media Group Chief Executive Officer Stephen Gitagama highlighted the critical role played by the livestock sector in the country’s economy, noting that it contributes 12 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP) and supports about half of jobs in the agricultural sector, benefiting 10 million Kenyans.

"This sector is still underutilised and could contribute close to 20 percent of our GDP and support almost 20 million of our population," said Mr Gitagama.

He added that the sector needs to tap into technology in terms of farming techniques, for instance by employing blockchain-enabled traceability solutions to know where the market is, who needs which products, and who is able to provide which input.

The theme for this year's conference is 'Revolutionising the Meat Industry for Bottom-Up Economic Transformation'.

Organised by the State Department of Livestock Development, private stakeholders, and development partners, the event saw an increase in exhibitors with over 70 participants compared to 50 last year.

Key partners include the Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency, the Kenya Meat and Livestock Exporters Industry Council, the Retail Trade Association of Kenya, the United States Agency for International Development, and the Kenya Meat Commission.