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Acceptability of Radiofrequency Animal Identification in Rural KwaZulu-Natal.

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The outbreak of animal diseases occurring in the past decades resulted in food incidents affecting animal products across the world. The subsequent decline in consumer confidence and profit losses forced the beef and dairy industries to improve production management. A ―farm-to-fork‖ traceability system in the form of Radiofrequency Identification (RFID) was adopted by many global markets as a solution. Invented to monitor military aircrafts during the World War II, RFID has transformed the traditional animal identification methods first practiced some 3 800 years ago. Other industries have also adopted RFID to improve efficiency in the supply chain. In beef production, RFID also has the potential to deter stock theft. There is insufficient evidence of how this technology is accepted by the emerging markets, particularly among rural livestock farmers. This study was motivated by the plan of the Department of Agriculture Rural Development to introduce RFID animal identification in rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa. The aim of the study was to test acceptability of RIFD by livestock farmers in rural areas of KZN. A quantitative approach was used to conduct a descriptive survey among the livestock farmers at Msinga, a Local Municipality in the Umzinyathi District of KZN. Data was collected from 170 randomly selected participants from a population of 1 000 livestock farmers. The study revealed that animal identification at Msinga is based on the use of skin colour, naming of animals, unauthorised random brand marks and authorised systematic brand marks. This approach seeks to enhance animal identification and ownership. The literature review showed that in spite of the evidence that countries without traceability systems fail to gain access into lucrative international meat markets, South Africa has not adopted RFID. Based on the Chi-Square test, the study fails to accept the null hypothesis suggesting that livestock farmers will not accept RFID. At 95% level of significance, the study concludes that there is sufficient evidence suggesting that livestock farmers at Msinga will accept RFID. As the beef industry migrates towards traceability to achieve product differentiation, gain consumer confidence and competitive advantage, it is recommended that South Africa consider a legislative framework to enable the adoption of RFID by livestock farmers, and that the government support the introduction of this technology into communal farmers in rural areas.