By Sheriff Janko
Cattle rustling or raiding has ever since been a major cause for concern among local farmers in the country, who largely depend on animals for agricultural purposes. It is a crime that happens with alarming frequency and has since caught the attention of stakeholders in agriculture, as well as law enforcement agents.
But why is it a major concern to these stakeholders? Simply answered, cattle rustling is a hazard with a great potential to derail efforts of keeping hunger at bay and ensuring household food security in the country. The menace has the potential to weaken farming in the country, in that many rural poor farmers use cattle to plough, weed, and harvest their farm produce. Cattle help them in their agricultural ventures, and as such cattle theft , seriously undermines their farming ambitions.
Cattle also serve as a major source of income to farmers. Many rural farmers are engaged in cattle business and every year, they realise large sums of money that they use to support their families with such as the payment of their children's school fees, clothing, shelter and even food.
This therefore is what prompted the stakeholders including the police, representatives from the Ministry of Interior, The Gambia Livestock Marketing Agency (GLMA), members of the Shepherd and Cattle Farmers Organisation, as well as other actors from the neighbouring Cassamance region of Senegal to organise a day long cross-border meeting at Giboro-Koto village in the Kombo East District, West Coast Region.
The meeting was deemed by officials as necessary in view of the alarming frequency of cattle theft that continues to have its toll on the outcome of agricultural production in the country. They tabled out modalities and possible alternatives to combat cattle rustling in the country. Chief among the strategies put in place was the need for all cattle owners in the country to register with the Shepherd and Cattle Farmers' Organisation. The officials also recognised the role that village heads can play in stamping out the menace of animal poaching, since alkalolou provide permits for livestock movement. More....