Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, is again urging farmers to register with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) in order to strengthen the Ministry’s efforts to curb farm theft. Mr. Clarke lamented that even as the Ministry embarks on a major anti-praedial larceny initiative, in collaboration with the police and the judiciary, “some farmers have refused to even register”.
“The farmers, however, have a responsibility, because underpinning that praedial larceny programme is the issuance of the receipt books so farmers must be registered,” Mr. Clarke stated while addressing the recent launch of the Ministry’s $42 million ginger and turmeric projects at the Orange River Research Station in St. Mary.
He explained that the receipt book comes with a discreet number, and farmers are required to issue the receipts to buyers of produce or livestock, along with their telephone number. This process, he said, will facilitate verification of the origins of the goods in a person’s possession, in the event the individual is apprehended by the police.
The Minister also reiterated a suggestion made by Police Commissioner, Owen Ellington, at the re-launch of the anti-praedial larceny initiative some two weeks ago that traders making purchases, declare same at the local police station, before departing the area in which the transaction is carried out. This, he pointed out, will ensure that the local lawmen can corroborate those transactions, should queries be made of the purchasers by their colleagues in other police jurisdictions. Mr. Clarke also welcomed the level of support for the programme from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
“We are also working with the judiciary, because (when) some people…go to court, they get a slap on the wrist, and (then) they move on (only to return to court the following) week. We are determined that the penalty must (fit) the crime,” the Minister argued.
Describing praedial larceny as the “greatest deterrent” to agricultural production, Mr. Clarke asserted that “we must find a way to make those who want to reap where they have not sown, pay the penalty”. “I am committed fully to that (because) he who feels it knows it…and I speak from personal experience. We can’t (effectively tackle) it in a piecemeal way so my appeal, now, is that every farmer must be registered,” he said.
Noting concerns that criminals are likely to register, Minister Clarke said “that ought not to be so because RADA representatives must verify that… persons (registering, are) farmers."