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As at January 31, some 93,000 farmers across 13 parishes were registered under the National Farmers Registration Programme, with some 60,000 being verified as legitimate farmers to legally trade agricultural produce.
President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Senator Norman Grant made the disclosure during his contribution to the State of the Nation Debate at Gordon House on February 16.
Senator Grant said the programme, which is being pioneered by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), at a cost of $20 million, and which is aimed at creating an accurate and up-to-date farmers’ register would, in conjunction with the additional activities being undertaken under the National Praedial Larceny Control Programme, help to tackle “the ever present and persistent cancer of praedial larceny”.
He further noted that the island’s farmers have been responding and urged others to visit RADA offices islandwide to get registered under the programme. In the meantime, he said distribution of receipt books are slated to begin in April, adding that it was hoped that a reduction in the incidents of praedial larceny would become apparent in at least 18 months.
Senator Grant’s observations came in the wake of Cabinet’s recent decision to contract Moore Business Forms Caribbean Limited to produce and supply 100,000 receipt books for the JAS, under the National Praedial Larceny Control Programme.
Under the agreement, the contractor will supply the receipt books within an eighth-month period and the books will each contain 100 receipts in triplicate and NCR paper used for copies. The books will be printed and delivered in batches of 10,000.
The receipt book will be the official receipt book of trade with the JAS as the sole distributor through its branch offices. Parish co-ordinators will assist in educating farmers and traders as to the use of the book. It will feature a unique registration number for each farmer and this number will be used by RADA, under its Agri Business Information System, enabling the authorities to electronically verify the origin of the produce. In addition, the law increases the maximum fine for breaches of the Act from $1,000 to $250,000.