May 17, 2010, 11:14 AM
Shepherds and Livestock Owners Association of The Gambia has established anti-cattle rustling committee for Lower River Region at a meeting held at the office of the governor in Mansakonko on Sunday.
The new committee, which comprises Shepherds, livestock owners, police, the regional governor and chiefs, is to perform all activities geared towards development of livestock in the country.
In his introductory remarks, Ebrima O. Jallow, Public Relations Officer of the association, said the newly formed committee is expected to work with local government authorities to establish cattle tracts and drinking points in various districts in the region, as well as settle disputes between crops and animal farmers.
“The committee stands to fight against all immoral acts on livestock development, especially theft, and overcharges on their feeding on crop farms by the presiding local courts,” he said.
Sutura Jallow, vice president of the Shepherds and Livestock Owners Association, pointed out that most of the thefts on cattle are committed by members of those communities.
He said history had proved further to them that although some of the theft cases occur in strange situations, members of the association, village heads, district chiefs and the police are responsible for handling certain cases of cattle rustling.
The Chief of Jarra West, Yaya Jarjusey, said SLAG had been dormant for a good number of years, which was to the disadvantage of animal farmers.
He noted that if workable mechanism is not in place, there would come a time when no animal would exist.
He also called on the association to collaborate with butchers to give a suitable waiting period before any animal would be slaughtered at the central abattoir with a view to helping them trace stolen animals.
Alhagie E. Secka, staff officer at the Ministry of Interior, who spoke on behalf of the minister, commended the association in its revitalization process, while he encouraged its members to take ownership of the association, as well as face their challenges in unity.
He supported the need for village heads and district chiefs to consider allocating animal routes to and from their grazing and drinking fields.
On the adjudicating cases, Mr Secka pointed out that as much as trials look at the side of the animal farmer, it is also important to note that the animals are capable of going against their owners’ wish.
He assured them of the ministry’s support on all their agenda to bring about development in the animal farming.
The Lower River Regional Governor, Salieu Puye, who gave the keynote address, enjoined the participants to institute the association with strong guiding principles.
He cautioned all the document-issuing authorities to be vigilant and crosscheck whatever document is presented to them in the trade of animals.
He also noted that animal farmers should work harder to avoid confrontation with crop farmers during farming season.