Microchip tags to tame cattle theft, spur sales in Laikipia

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A microchip tag device is being fitted on a cattle's ear. The device helps in tracking the animal's movement hence helps in curbing livestock thefts and boost sales. Photo: Mwangi Ndirangu | NMG.

The county government of Laikipia in collaboration with Kenya Veterinary Association (KVA) on Monday unveiled an electronic and traceability project that will help farmers and the government track illegal movement of livestock and help in authorized sales of the animals.

The pilot project which will take Sh10m in three months and will see 50,000 head of cattle fitted with microchip tags that can transmit information about the animal's movement, its history and the owner. This detail is then reflected in a computer and mobile phone compatible application.

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The device will be permanently fixed in the animal’s ear and cannot be interfered with or raptured unless one cuts off the animal’s ear

“Laikipia County is chosen to try this project out because it is leading in beef production and the county leaders and other stakeholders in the beef industry have also stood up for support,” said KVA chairman, Dr. Samuel Kahariri, during the launch of the project at Jua Kali Market in Laikipia North Sub-County.

According to Kahariri, the traceability will also help in marketing of the county’s livestock products especially in international markets by enabling consumers to track information about a product.

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“Kenya has enough beef but the quality does not meet the international standards. We would like to boost the sector by controlling the spread of diseases which we believe is caused by cattle rustling and illegal movement of livestock,” said Kahariri.

When the project is implemented it will minimise theft, assist in disease control and ease movement of animals.

January 2017 Kenya Police report indicates that more than 24 people were killed in cattle rustling violence in the previous year, while nearly 25,000 livestock were stolen in 56 raids. This might have increased.

This project which is a public private partnership with support from the national government through the State Department of Livestock, will finally be conducted in other counties where livestock farming is the main economic activity.

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In the next few weeks a team of doctors will be moving across Laikipia County in different community ranches and farms fitting the microchip tags on livestock. This will be completed in April this year.

This project is in agreement with the devolve unit plan which is to get pastoralists to shift from traditional ways of rearing livestock to methods that will curb spread of disease and improve quality and quantity of livestock.