FAO will support Georgia to increase its agriculture competitiveness through improvement of the food safety and animal health standards. FAO and the MOA of Georgia will launch a new four-year project financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and Austrian Development Agency (ADA) facilitating the establishment of an integrated European Union compliant National Animal Identification, Registration and Traceability Systems (NAITS) in Georgia for livestock. Mr. Raimund Jehle, FAO Representative for Georgia, Mr. Levan Davitashvili, the Minister of Agriculture of Georgia together with Mr. Olivier Bürki, Regional Director of Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus, in attendance of Mr. Nikoloz Grdzelidze, a representative of the Regional Office of Austrian Development Agency, signed the NAITS project agreement worth of more than five-million USD. Deputy Ministers of Agriculture attended the meeting. The project includes four main directions: ``The main driving forces for implementing such system in Georgia is improvement of animal health with a focus on epidemic diseases, disease prevention, zoonosis and food safety.``Primary NAITS functions will be based on four basic elements which will be tightly connected with each other: cattle and small ruminants throughout Georgia will obtain a unique ID code inscribed onto an animal identification device (e.g. ear tag); An animal document bearing the animal ID code will be issued - either movement document and livestock control book, or in the case of cattle, a passport showing the animal’s ownership and movement history; Holdings, farms, market centres, Border Information Posts, slaughter houses will be given unique codes identifying each establishment and, finally, all this animal information about animal holdings and animals will be stored in the central database.
FAO will take a major role in the support to NFA in the establishment and implementation of NAITS at the country level for cattle and small ruminants, and to make sure that all the stakeholders - slaughterhouses, border inspection posts, markets - that will be users of the system - receive the appropriate training to adapt to the new electronic system and assure the proper implementation of it.
According to the Minister of Agriculture, international donor organization’s support is relevant for Georgia, especially in terms of implementation of an important project on improvement of animal identification and registration system.
"Ensuring food safety, veterinary and phyto sanitary reliability is envisaged by DCFTA requirements, therefore one of the necessary preconditions for food safety is protection of animal health, whereby the main driving force for implementing animal identification and recording systems in Georgia that meets EU standards is improvement of animal health with a focus on epidemic diseases, disease prevention, zoonosis and food safety that will subsequently ensure epizootic reliability, traceability and animal husbandry and further increase competitiveness and enhance export potential of Georgian agro products” - Levan Davitashvili said.
This project funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and co-funded by Austrian Development Agency (ADA) will be implemented by FAO in close collaboration with the National Food Agency (NFA) of the Ministry of Agriculture.
“We are delighted to support the Government of Georgia in this important initiative. A fully functional NAITS in Georgia will markedly improve animal health in the country and facilitate the exchanges in the region ''- said Olivier Bürki, Regional Director of Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus.
``Animal Identification project will lead to an improved animal health, reduced food risks, facilitated access to regional and international markets, allowing for a higher income for farmers,`` said FAO representative in Georgia Raimund Jehle.
Individually identified and registered animals allows for many activities in the livestock sector such as enhanced access to markets, performance recording, breeding, proof of ownership, theft prevention and even increased awareness of the animal’s value and, as a consequence of adequate management, resulting in improved animal performance.