October 2021: Animal Identification and Registration Systems (AIRS) – Mongolia International Workshop

Mongolian government representatives and FAO organized a two-day workshop on 07-08 Oct 2021 to present the results, lessons and recommendations to the STDF supported project on Animal Identification and Registration Systems (AIRS) in Mongolia.

During the event, experts, government and international organizations representatives also shared their experiences on livestock identification and traceability systems and other SPS-related capacity building initiatives on the livestock sector, including in Africa and the Asia Pacific region.

The pilot project will “road-test” an improved “Animal Identification and Registration System” (AIRS) in Mongolia, which is essential to promote export of livestock and livestock products. Animal identification and registration is also the foundation for addressing and managing animal health issues (including zoonoses).

For the workshop, the following informative material have been produced and made available for on-line consultation:

 

Background

Mongolia is a Lower Middle Income Country (LMIC), landlocked between Russia and China. Mongolia has historically relied on mining. Recently the Government is working to diversify the economy by developing the livestock sector. Almost half of Mongolia’s population is engaged in the livestock sector, which represents 15% of the GDP. Mongolian meat is considered to be of good quality by virtue of coming from mainly grass fed animals. Yet, many challenges persist, such as lack of trained veterinarians, inadequate animal health care, disease outbreaks (including Food and Mouth Disease) and unsustainable pastureland management. The absence of a reliable and functional animal identification and registration system is a major challenge to expand livestock exports.

Until 1990, animals were identified by a metallic tag for recording performance. In 2009, the Government (with some support from donors) sought to set up a new animal identification system. These efforts have faced significant challenges, including difficulties in restraining semi-wild and adult animals, cumbersome procedures, lack of ear tags and a dearth of trained officers (since 2014), an overly complex system that was not financial sustainable. The absence of a functional AIRS means that information does not exist on whether exported animals or animal products originate from an area, which is known to be healthy or from an area with animal diseases.

Thus, AIRS is the building block to improve animal health in Mongolia and facilitate exports. At the present time, Mongolia exports in a little proportion to China (frozen beef), Iran (mutton) and Vietnam (goat). The development of these markets, both concerning meat amount and value, is the first aim of the AIRS, before entering new markets.

The one-year pilot project’s aim is to test the technical feasibility (identification scheme and database design) of the amended AIRS before its expected extension to other parts of Mongolia, subject to the performance of the pilot.

Piloting a robust and agile animal identification and registration system will serve as a catalyst to improve export of meat from Mongolia. A functional AIRS will help to quickly locate origin of an animal. The modified AIRS will also contribute to improving public veterinary services, disease surveillance and control of contagious disease by strengthening reliability of veterinary export certificates. An improved AIRS is expected to have important impacts on economic development in Mongolia, and also to help address environmental challenges linked to over-grazing. Improvement of the SPS situation in Mongolia, dissemination of good practices and replicability are thus underlying principles of the project.

Expected results

Efficient and reliable AIRS and functional IT system developed

A method of animal identification differing across species will be developed and an IT system with an application for mobile devices will be developed and adapted to the existing database. A standardized interface will be implemented.

Operational AIRS in the pilot area

Identification Field Operators (IFOs) will be trained for animal tagging and registration using the application. The slaughterhouses will also be trained for database management. The IFOs in the pilot areas will be equipped with necessary tools for tagging and registering animals. The mobile applications will further be connected to the National livestock registration and information database.

Pilot project is assessed and recommendations are elaborated for the extension stage

The European Union funded project “Trade Related Assistance for Mongolia” (EU-TRAM) will assess the project implementation (technical feasibility of the AIRS, financial evaluation and legal assessment) and develop recommendations for next stages, e.g. upscaling the AIRS.

ICAR, Arthur van Schendelstraat 650, 3511 MJ Utrecht, The Netherlands - Email: icar@icar.org