Tuesday April 18, 2006
Tagging to curb spread of FMD
By V.P. Sujata
PUTRAJAYA: Radio frequency identification (RFID) chip technology to tag the movement of cattle is in the pipeline to prevent the spread of foot and mouth disease (FMD).
The tagging will begin with imported cattle and later be introduced on local cattle that are transported from one state to another.
Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said, under the RFID system currently used by New Zealand, every head of cattle would have a code number, enabling it to be traced to the farm from which it originated.
He said smuggled cattle could thus be traced easily, as they would not have code numbers.
Although FMD was under control, Muhyiddin said, fresh cases had cropped up in a few states and the disease could easily spread if affected cattle were transported to unaffected states.
States that were free from the disease were Sabah, Sarawak, Johor, Malacca, and Negri Sembilan, he said, adding that the disease would be controlled by way of vaccination and barring of movement.
Affected states would have to get permission from the state veterinary department before cattle could be transported to another state, he said.
Muhyiddin added that smuggling of cattle from neighbouring countries would also be tackled to contain the disease, which had caused Malaysian cattle to be banned from being exported.
I will soon be visiting Kelantan, Kedah and Perlis to check on the smuggling of cattle from the borders, and to ensure that enforcement agencies take severe action against those responsible for the smuggling, he said.
The plan to make Malaysia FMD-free in about two years’ time, he said, was mainly to make local beef acceptable to the international market. He said that at the same time the country had to increase its production of cattle.
Muhyiddin was speaking to reporters here after meeting livestock entrepreneurs, known to the ministry as agropreneurs, to share information on land, grazing grounds and funds to increase production.