RuVASA Newsletter-Interview on LITS SA-2019-03-11

See here the interview held on the 7th of March 2019 between Dr Trish Oglesby and Dr Pieter Vervoort regarding LITS SA:

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Livestock Identification and Traceability System (LITS): An Interview with Dr Pieter Vervoort [managing director (MD) at the National Animal Health Forum (NAHF)]. March 2019


According to the National Development Plan (NDP): ” to optimise the impact of expanding exports, it is necessary to stimulate areas where there is a revealed competitive advantage and growing global demand, where the products would contribute to rising terms of trade, and where potential exists to expand domestic linkages”. The Agricultural Policy Action Plan (APAP) and Veterinary Strategy highlight the adverse effects of certain important diseases (e.g. transboundary animal diseases) on trade and the safety of animals and animal products.  Animal identification, recording and traceability (AIRT) is the first step in addressing these concerns to aid in the access of lucrative trade markets.

AIRT is both a public and private good that is critical to food security and economic growth in the livestock sector through better control of infectious diseases, animal traceability, promotion of food safety, and improved livestock production data quality and the analysis thereof. AIRT is regarded as a private good as it contributes to disaster management, data collection and analysis – leading to improved breeding, animal production and productivity and farm management. It may also reduce stock theft and lead to enhanced market access and competitiveness. AIRT is regarded as a public good because of increased animal and product traceability, which improves animal health and ensures food safety assurance and consumer protection.



Conducted by Dr Trish Oglesby (RuVASA chair) with Dr Pieter Vervoort (NAHF MD)


Trish:-  Pieter, how will the identification and traceability of animals be captured on a data system?  How user-friendly will the system be for the producer?  What will it cost the producer?


Pieter:  LITS will be a user- driven system, driven by demand from the consumer.

The cost to the producer is the purchase of, uniquely numbered, ear-tags.  The producer then tags his animals and scans the tag chip into the system under his name.


Will it be difficult for non-commercial and remotely located farmers to use the system?

Pieter:  Everyone will have access.

There will be apps available for use on all devices.  Anyone with a smart phone can use the system.

Local animal health technician’s (AHT) facilities will be made available to assist producers to load data on the system.


Which organisations are involved in LITS?  Where is the funding coming from?

Pieter:  LITS is a private-public partnership between the NAHF and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).

It will fund itself, as part of the money generated from the sale of ear-tags will divert to LITS for running the system.  We expect to receive funding from other organisations as well, and it is possible government will provide funding but the system should not be dependent on only state funding.


Will LITS be voluntary or compulsory?

Pieter:  Compulsory in the foot-and-mouth-disease (FMD) control zone and initially voluntary for the rest of the country.  As the system gains momentum and more buyers, consumers, feedlots, abattoirs etc. insist on traceable identification and a traceable health status, it will become less easy for producers to sell their product if they are not compliant.


Please explain some of the benefits of LITS for the producer.

  1. Traceability is the ability to trace the ownership of an animal from birth to market.
  2. It is a value-added system. The benefits to the producer will outweigh the cost of the tags.
  3. Feedlots will likely pay more for animals arrive LITS-tagged and traceable.
  4. Buyer confidence. Buyers can ask for access to a seller’s information and know with certainty that the herd is owned, vaccinated, tested for tuberculosis and brucellosis, fertility tested, and other criteria including antibiotic usage.  It is a defendable system based on auditable TRUST.
  5. Veterinary certificates loaded on the system will carry the assurance that they are from an authentic veterinary source.
  6. Traceable equals bankable. Currently no bank will grant loans to farmers based on the animals he says he owns; but with a system that proves and records the existence of said animals a farmer will be able to use his herd as collateral for borrowing money.  This is not only for commercial farmers but is also important for communal areas.
  7. Biosecurity – the first rule of biosecurity is knowing where did an animal come from and where did it end up.
  8. On-line movement permits and scanners will assist authorities to monitor animals in transit thus lowering stock theft and illegal movement. Think of the police stopping a car in a road block and knowing within a matter of minutes of checking whether the car is registered and stolen.  The same will be possible for animals in transit.


How confidential is the data?

Pieter:  Not everyone in the public domain will have access to a producer’s data.  The producer must first approve third party access.


If the current FMD overspill had occurred with a fully functional LITS in place how would that have differed to the current situation?

Pieter:  More exports would have been left undisturbed.

South Africa will always have a FMD zone and every now and again the disease will overspill into the surveillance zone.  We need to show our trading partners that we are in control of the disease, which animals are in close or distant proximity to the FMD area, and that the movement of animals is monitored.

If we can prove this, then livestock reared and slaughtered thousands of kilometres away from the FMD zone can be exported even during an outbreak.


What can RuVASA vets do?

Pieter:  Support the system.  Start thinking about the benefits to the profession and their clients, of a believable and reliable livestock identification and traceability system.

LITS has massive economic and human health benefits.  Our profession remains responsible for disease control.