JP Tropical Foods Looking to Use Drones to Combat Farm Theft

Photo: Rudranath Fraser General Manager for the Commercial Division of JP Tropical Foods, Neil Crum-Ewing, addresses a recent JIS Think Tank.

Story Highlights

  • JP Tropical Foods Limited, manufacturers of the popular St. Mary’s Banana Chips, is exploring the use of drones to combat praedial larceny.
  • Addressing a recent JIS Think Tank, General Manager for the company’s Commercial Division, Neil Crum-Ewing, informed that the entity loses some $40 million in revenue per year due to farm theft.
  • “A banana is very affordable... but security is a significant part of what you pay for a banana,” he noted.

JP Tropical Foods Limited, manufacturers of the popular St. Mary’s Banana Chips, is exploring the use of drones to combat praedial larceny.

Addressing a recent JIS Think Tank, General Manager for the company’s Commercial Division, Neil Crum-Ewing, informed that the entity loses some $40 million in revenue per year due to farm theft.

He said the objective is to introduce the drones by year-end, following successful negotiations with the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA).

“We have tested the use of drones for surveillance and applying fertiliser and pesticides and found it to be effective. That has been going very well,” he noted.

He told JIS News that JP Farms is also looking at introducing video surveillance in the fields. “We always had video surveillance for our processing facilities but now we want to get it in the fields and have a central monitoring body that is actively seeing what is happening,” he pointed out.

Mr. Crum-Ewing noted that due to praedial larceny, security has become one of the company’s highest operating costs. This, he said, affects the price customers pay for products and impacts the company’s ability to expand its operations and employ more people.

“A banana is very affordable… but security is a significant part of what you pay for a banana,” he noted.

“Also, the higher the… revenue loss, the more costly it is to expand your operations, and expansion brings employment opportunities. If you have praedial larceny and it is a high cost to your operation, then you do not have that capital to hire more people,” he explained.

Mr. Crum-Ewing told JIS News that coconut accounts for most of the company’s loss due to praedial larceny, with banana responsible for five per cent.

“We have 200 acres of coconut and we do not get the production from the crop as we should,” he lamented.

Mr. Crum-Ewing said the company will be engaging surrounding communities in the effort to reduce farm theft.

“This goes back to community involvement, outreach programmes and engaging communities to remind them… of what we are doing and that it will benefit them in terms of employment,” he explained.

He told JIS News that despite the challenges “JP Farms is very bullish on the fresh produce business.”

JP Farms, the farming operation of JP Tropical Foods, is based in Agualta Vale, St Mary.

JIS Social