Sun | Oct 1, 2023

Praedial larceny must be dealt with urgently – Green

Published:Wednesday | May 31, 2023 | 12:50 AM
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining Floyd Green examines Quiet Storm, a chestnut stallion owned by Dr Arielle Foote (left), daughter of Westmoreland veterinarian, Dr Dingle Foote, during the Westmoreland Agricultural Show 2023 at Manning’s School in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, on May 28.

PRAEDIAL LARCENY remains a clear and present danger to the agricultural sector and must be dealt with as a matter of urgency, says Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining Floyd Green.

Speaking at the Westmoreland Agricultural Show 2023, at the Manning’s School in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, on May 28, Green said that it is against this background that a high-level meeting with ministry officials and agricultural stakeholders will be held shortly to look at ways to tackle the issue head on.

The minister emphasised that the penalties are currently not strong enough to deter the practice.

“One of the big holdbacks for farmers, especially young farmers, has to do with praedial larceny. This is a serious problem and one that has been plaguing the sector for decades. I can promise you that tackling this issue will be [one of my main priorities] as minister going forward,” Green said.

“I expect, before the end of the week, to meet with the legal team to see where we are on introducing more stringent penalties for those who go out and steal from our farmers,” he added.

The minister said he would also be engaging, over the next three weeks, Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson, “to see how we can put more boots on the ground in divisions that are having a particular challenge with praedial larceny”.

Green said he has already had discussions with the ministry’s permanent secretary regarding the Agricultural Wardens’ Programme, “knowing fully well that we must tackle praedial larceny [head on] if we are going to have our farmers with small ruminants do well”.

The minister pointed out that over the past 17 months, 52 acts of praedial larceny were reported to the authorities, adding that it is estimated that farmers have suffered $6 billion in losses over a 10-year period.

Green said he is always encouraged by the support given to agricultural shows, noting that they allow for huge exposure and give farmers “a broader market for their produce”.

“It is great that we have engagements of this nature where we can give our farmers additional markets that people can come to and participate in, while also highlighting the new technologies that we have going around for agriculture and fisheries,” he added.

Green, in the meantime, said he would be engaging stakeholders in the mining sector over the next three weeks to discuss ways to strengthen the industry.

“We want to have discussions with all the players and with our investors. Clearly, we will have to speak to our internal agencies … the regulators … as we don’t want to do anything that will affect our communities,” the minister added.

“Already, we see some shoots of opportunity, such as limestone. Jamaica has the best quality limestone in the world, and we will be placing some special emphasis on that, and we will also be placing some emphasis on rare earth elements,” Green said.