Possibilities of establishing a smallholder pig identification and traceability system in Kenya
This paper (PDF) in the Tropical Animal Health and Production, begins a discussion on traceability in the pig value chain, with an initial focus on smallholder systems of Western Kenya. Consumers have a right to safer foods, and traceability is one approach to meeting their expectations. Kenya does not have an operational animal traceability system, and while a few initiatives have been piloted, these have only focused on the beef value chain. Animal identification is important for traceability, but based on this review, locally raised pigs are rarely identified. Once implemented, in addition to potentially increasing production (through reduced disease problems), the system could help ensure the quality and safety of pork sold in domestic markets. Contaminated products can be tracked and removed from retail shelves, and problem herds can be traced and measures put in place to contain the problem. There is also an opportunity to open new market opportunities. In the smallholder context, individual identification is proposed given that farmers may source pigs from different farms and will only keep a few at a time and sell them at different time periods. Since meat inspection in the country has now been taken up by the county governments, we see traceability as an option that counties, in partnership with the private sector, could use to market themselves as producers of “safe and traceable” pork. Farmers need to be sensitized on the importance of identifying animals and recording their movements and how this can improve market access. The system can later be upgraded to include the use of automated technologies such as the electronic ear tags, but feasibility and cost factors will need to be considered. Implementation of traceability as a tool for health and food safety requires participation of all stakeholders in the value chain. Appropriate incentives would need to be explored to allow for widespread adoption of the intervention.