My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Min. of Agriculture proposes DNA Database for Cattle and Livestock – How RFID Biometric Markers can curtail Praedial Larceny and Develope Agro Processing for Export

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Min. of Agriculture proposes DNA Database for Cattle and Livestock – How RFID Biometric Markers can curtail Praedial Larceny and Develope Agro Processing for Export

“We have already developed the relevant database and are in the procurement process for the tags, which will arrive in time to facilitate the commencement of tagging in the second quarter of this year”

Minister of Agriculture, Roger Clarke in his Budget Presentation in the House of Representatives as reported on Thursday May 1st 2014

This has certainly been a most interesting and invigorating Budget Debate.

First an ATM Withdrawal Tax was put forward and then withdrawn, ostensibly due to pressure from the Commercial and Private Banks, Lending Institutions and Investment Firms as chronicled in my blog article entitled “Minister of Finance, Dr. Peter Phillips withdraws ATM WithDrawal Tax - Wealthier Class Big Stick quells the Perfect Storm for Mobile Money and Cashless Society”.

Now Cattle and other Livestock are to be Tagged with Biometric ID’s under the NAITS (National Animal Identification and Traceability System) Initiative before 2014 is ended as stated in “Cattle passports to thwart praedial thieves”, published Thursday, April 24, 2014 by BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter, The Jamaica Observer and “Cattle To Be Tagged In Praedial Larceny Fight”, Published Thursday April 24, 2014 by Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner.

The real deal can of course be, literally, best read from the Horse’s Mouth, the Jamaica Information Service as reported in “All Cattle to be Tagged in One Year”, published April 24, 2014 By Latonya Linton, The Jamaica Information Service.

Slated for implementation by the end of June 2014, the NAITS is an initiative that was initially the brainchild of Opposition Spokesman J.C. Hutchinson when he was Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture during the reign of Dr. Christopher Tufton as Ministry of Agriculture as stated in “Animal Passport To Thwart Thieves”, Published Friday December 3, 2010 by Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner.

The Jamaica Red Poll Breeders Society have welcomed the idea, especially as the DNA Database of Cattle is already in place as stated in “Cattle Farmers' Group Says Yes To Animal Tagging But...,” Published Thursday April 24, 2014 9:35 am, The Jamaica Gleaner. Chairman Martin Hopwood only grouse is that the Jamaican Police do not take Praedial Larceny Cases seriously.

Ironically it was rejected by then Opposition spokespersons on Agriculture Roger Clarke. Apparently after coming into office and faced with the growing problem, he’s turned to the idea to make a dent in this problem which is quite serious and no laughing matter. A single cow can cost as much as JA$160,000, or roughly the salary of a Reliability Engineer at JAMALCO as pointed out in “Clarendon Farmers Frustrated By Thieves”, published Thursday April 24, 2014 2:44 pm by Shanique Samuels, Gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner.

This as verified by a quick perusal of the Ministry Paper Tabled by Ministry of Agriculture Roger Clarke quote: “The consultancy follows previous works done in 2009 and 2010 to develop a system for cattle. The current focus is on cattle and pigs. However, the prototype developed will be applicable to other species of farm animals”.

DNA Database for Cattle and Livestock – How RFID Biometric Markers can curtail Praedial Larceny

The Ministry of Agriculture has already gotten JA$7 million from the Ministry of Finance to fund this Praedial Larceny Unit since Tuesday April 1st 2014. Already plans are afoot for a Database to store the DNA of every head of cattle and other livestock in Jamaica. The Ministry Paper Tabled by Ministry of Agriculture Roger Clarke lays out the steps towards the development of NAITS:

1.      Legislation
2.      Institutional arrangement
3.      Enforcement
4.      Compliance

The first 2 are fairly easy, as Laws merely need to be passed to empower the Praedial Larceny Unit with the power of Arrest base on evidence from the Tags being compared against the DNA Database in real time by the Police.

Enforcement and compliance are the two tough ones. First the DNA of all Cattle and other livestock in Jamaican has to be captured by qualified technicians and analysed by Bio-Chemists and Geneticists. This analysis work will most likely be contracted from a Foreign Laboratory, probably based in the US of A or Colombia, who have large herds of Cattle which they manage using Biometric ID Tags!

That material with be sequenced, analyzed and the unique DNA markers for each head of Cattle and Livestock identified. That DNA marker information along with who owns the Cattle and the location of the farms will be placed into the Biometric Tags that are RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) Readable.

These Biometric Tags will then be placed inside of the Cattle and other livestock, enableing the Jamaican Police working as officers attached to the Praedial Larceny Unit to identify livestock based on the implanted Biometric Tags.

Preferably not on the ear but embedded deep inside of the Cattle’s flesh, such as in the Rump or other popular part of the animal for consumption, as pointed out by Opposition Spokesman J.C. Hutchinson, quote: “If he is only going to tag the ears of the animals, that is not going far enough because all the praedial thieves will do is to cut off the ear with the tag”.

By using RFID Readers or even smartphones with an RFID Readers attachment to scan dead or living livestock they can then determine if the cattle is stolen or not. More importantly, Police Officers attached to the Praedial Larceny Unit can query the DNA Database of Livestock in Jamaica to determine ownership of Livestock seized and if an arrest can be made.

According to the Ministry Paper Tabled by Ministry of Agriculture Roger Clarke, the Praedial Larceny Software that ties together the DNA Database, the RFID Reader that the Praedial Larceny Unit will use in the field will be based on an App developed by Programmers from the Code for the Caribbean Fellowship Programme.

It apparently will involve smartphones, as it must work over the 3G and future 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) Wireless Broadband Networks being developed by Telecom Provider LIME and Telecom Provider Digicel as pointed out in my blog article entitled “LIME and Digicel have purchase AWS and 700 MHZ Spectrum for 4G LTE - Spectrum Purchase by the Number with Strings Attached as Ministry gets kitty donations from Local Telcos”. The RFID Readers will thus have to be a physical device attached to these smartphones or may be a handheld device that can connect over the 3G/4G LTE!

Minister of Agriculture and Praedial Larceny - Developing Agro Processing for Export and Local consumption

Good thing that Minister of Agriculture, Roger Clarke has decided to continue this program, as tackling Pradeial Larceny in Jamaica does indeed need this type of approach.

To this end, NAITS isn’t just about tagging Cattle or any other measure such as the use of Drones, which is I’ve long suggested for the ISCF aka the Jamaican Police as pointed out in my blog article entitled “GOJ can develope UAV's as a means of giving the Police eyes in the sky - Inspiration for Aviators in Jamaica via G.I. Joe Retaliation”.

It’s more about the GOJ (Government of Jamaica), the Jamaican Police and the Nation as a whole becoming more serious about Tackling a problem that stands in the way of breaking our dependence on Imported Food and developing Agro Processing for Export! 

No comments: