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Taraba Anti-open Grazing Bill: House Begins Public Hearing                                           

Stakeholders have unanimously agreed that the Taraba state Anti Open Grazing and Ranching Development Bill will reduce the spread of diseases in animals, increase the production of meat and milk, reduce conflicts between farmers and herdsmen and curb the straying of animals into farms, among others.

This was agreed upon during the opening of the public hearing on the bill in Jalingo Tuesday.

During its presentation, the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources,represented by the Permanent Secretary, Isaac Mela, noted that ranching was the best practice the world over as practiced in Kenya, Brazil, South Africa and America.

He added that modern ways of pasture production would be provided which would be useful in both rainy and dry season.

He however advised that sensitization and public enlightenment should be done on the bill, revealing that the nine grazing reserves in the state have been encroached by farmers on the excuse that they have not been compensated and therefore advised government to pay compensation, acquire the lands and demarcate some for ranches and some others to grow pasture.

Also towing along that line, Permanent Secretary, Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Bello Yero, was confident that ranching will promote international best practices in livestock production.

He noted that the lack of proper public enlightenment had resulted to different ‘narratives’.

He therefore suggested that a six month window period should be provided when the bill is passed into Law for graziers to prepare their ranches and for government to put all necessary machineries on ground.

Yero also insisted that the enlightenment must go on despite the attempt by mischief makers to misinform the public about the bill.

However, in his response, the Chairman of the Committee, Mark Useni, regretted that a ‘counterfeit copy’ of the bill was circulated by mischievous persons which was aimed at misinforming the public about the bill.

He therefore cautioned those in that habit to desist from such acts.

Other presenters at the public hearing were the Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN), Muslim Council, Farmers Protection Association of Nigeria, the Jalingo Development Association, Northern states Christian Elders Forum and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Jalingo chapter, who questioned the title of the bill, attributing the opposition to Bill by some sections of the society to the title which they believe, succeeded in sending a negative message.

A stakeholder, Alhaji Aboki, who spoke last complained of the practicability of the bill, saying the terrain in most parts of Taraba was not conducive for ranching.

According to him, apart from Sardauna where ranching is being practiced, the remaining 15 LGAs could not produce pasture all year round for the cattle.

Earlier on, Speaker of the House, Abel Peter Diah, while declaring the occasion open, stated that the House represents “the essence of democracy” and would do nothing inimical to the interest of the people and that the bill was not targeted at any group.

According to him, the bill would promote the best standard practices in dairy production.