By Ike Uchechukwu – Calabar
A bill seeking to prohibit open rearing and grazing of livestock and provide for the establishment of ranches and livestock and grazing management, regulation and control has scaled through second reading in the Cross River House of Assembly.
Sponsor of the bill, Mr Elvert Ayambem, representing Ikom II State Constituency, said on Wednesday during plenary that the bill seeks to promote modern techniques of animal husbandry.
Ayambem said that the bill also seeks to manage the environmental impact of open grazing and protect the environment from degradation and pollution caused by open rearing and grazing of livestock.
According to him, the bill would also prevent the destruction of farms, crops, ponds, settlements and properties caused by open rearing and grazing of livestock.
“One of the objective of this bill is that it will prevent killings, sexual molestation and clashes between herders and farmers or their host communities caused by open rearing and grazing of livestock.
“This bill will also regulate and support the growth of livestock framing, promote the production of high and healthy breeds of livestock, and also promote investment opportunities and expand the value chain in livestock farming,” he said.
The lawmaker told Vanguard in an interview after plenary that if passed into law, the state Ministry of Agriculture shall ensure that a veterinary doctor is sent at least once a month to every ranch to conduct a check on the livestock for quarantine or bio-security measures.
Ayambem noted that every owner or manager of a ranch shall ensure that he complies with every veterinary check on the livestock for quarantine or bio-security measures.
“If this bill is successfully passed into law, no person shall engage in open nomadic livestock herding or grazing in the state except within the confines of ranch approved under this law.
“A persons who contravenes the provision of sub secretion (1) of this section, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to confinement in a Correctional Centre for a term of five years or a fine of N10million or both.
“In a case of damage to a farm, crops, property or accident in the state, the owner or manager of the livestock shall, after evaluation of the damage, pay the prevailing value of monetary compensation of the damaged farms, crops or property to the owner of the farm,” he said.
In their separate contributions, lawmakers commended the sponsor for initiating the bill, which they said will help to reduce the conflict between farmers and herders in the state.
On his part ,the Speaker of the House, Mr Eteng Jonah-Williams, described the bill as the ‘most outstanding’ bill so far to be sponsored by a lawmaker in the 9th assembly.
He said that the bill captured the modern day style of ranching, thereby asking members of the house to give it the needed support it deserves.
The Speaker, therefore, referred the bill to the House Committee on Lands and Agriculture with a mandate to the committee to summit their report within three weeks to the house for further deliberations on the bill.