A pilot program to allow pork traceability is being set up in the Colombian department of Quindio, with the aim to give Colombian pig producers, traders, consumers and authorities more information about the origin of the meat, reported Cronica del Quinidio.

According to Cronica del Quindio, the initiative has been set up jointly by the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA), the Association of Pork Producers of Colombia (Porkcolombia), the Ministry of Agriculture and Frigocafé.

ICA said in a statement that Quindo was chosen for the pilot project because the department is free of classical swine fever, the majority of pig farmers are registered, and there is a good level of veterinary oversight.

The plan is designed to boost competition, open up new markets and reassure consumers about the quality of the pork they are purchasing, according to the statement.

Recent growth in Colombia’s pork sector

Annual per-capita pork in Colombia has been rising in recent years, and has now reached 8kg, according to the Colombian Association of Pig Breeders (Asoporcicultores), reported Radio Santa Fe - Bogatá. Growth in the sector – put at 15 percent from 2014 – is attributed to improved product quality, which has been achieved through modernization of pig production methods and specially formulated feeds based on corn and soybean meal.

However, Colombia’s pig population of around 5 million animals is spread across 200,000 sites, mainly in the Colombian departments of Antioquia, Cundinamarca, Valle del Cauca, Meta, Boyacá and Cauca. Small Colombian pig producers are not enjoying the benefits of strong domestic demand, however, because of the high cost of farm inputs, most of which are imported.

Colombian pig producers' rearing and slaughtering conditions in rural areas are not up to the standards of many parts of the world, according to the Association, and it expressed concerns about health risks from the widespread illegal imports of pork from Venezuela.

According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization Statistical Division, pig meat production in Colombia has been trending upwards since 2000, reaching 243,100 metric tons (267,971 US tons) in 2013, the most recent year for which figures have been published.