Thu | Sep 19, 2019

Stop kidding with goat thieves, Harris pleads

Published:Wednesday | April 24, 2019 | 12:25 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
A farmer in Mocho, Clarendon, takes a stroll with his goat.
A farmer in Mocho, Clarendon, takes a stroll with his goat.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Jamaican goat farmers are bleating for greater protection from farm thieves who have pillaged their herds and robbed them of revenue, a ­senior Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) branch president has said.

Speaking at the 2019 staging of the Montpelier Agricultural Show in St James on Monday, Glendon Harris, who is also a former president of the JAS, highlighted how praedial larceny was perhaps the most deleterious occupational hazard afflicting agriculture. He suggested that a rigorous system be established for the proper accounting of chevon.

“Our animal farmers, particularly our goat farmers, are suffering. The farmers are trying their utmost best to produce goats, but when it’s not four-foot dogs affecting them, it’s the ‘two-foot puss’,” said Harris, using Jamaican parlance to refer to thieves.

“We import more than 85 per cent of the goat meat that we eat in Jamaica, and Jamaica is a place that at every function that we have, we want to have curry goat. But the goat thieves are wreaking havoc on the industry, and we want to call on all the authorities to ensure that every goat meat that is sold here is properly accounted for from the farm to the table,” added Harris.

Harris’ call echoed a similar plea made by JAS President Norman Grant last April, when he called on the Government to amend the Agriculture Produce Act to increase the fine for praedial larceny from J$250,000 to J$5 million. He had also called for the assets of “farm terrorists” to be seized and sold to compensate victims of praedial larceny.

Agriculture Minister Audley Shaw had promised to review and give more resources to the Praedial Larceny Prevention Unit in a renewed effort to combat praedial larceny, which costs the agriculture sector approximately J$6 billion annually.

Harris also said that measures must be put in place to protect goat farmers’ livestock from stray dogs, including breeds that are imported from overseas and then allowed to roam on farmers’ property.“There’s no other country that is looking for the benefit of the farmers that allows dogs to roam the way they roam in Jamaica, particularly those dogs that are mixed with the pit bulls,” said Harris. “We want to know that something will be done to ensure that we get those dogs off the farmers’ goats.”

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