Agricultural Stakeholders Discuss Praedial Larceny


Praedial larceny was the main focus of a meeting among agricultural stakeholders, held at the Jamaica 4-H Clubs Training Centre at the Denbigh showground, in Clarendon, last week.
The theme of the forum was: ‘Praedial Larceny – Possible Solutions to the Single Greatest Deterrent to Agricultural Development’, and taking part were representatives of the Jamaica School of Agriculture/College of Agriculture, Science and Education (JSA/CASE) Alumni; Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), the Ministry of National Security and farmers.
The meeting formed part of a series of events to be staged by the JSA/CASE Alumni to commemorate the centenary of tertiary education on agriculture in Jamaica.
According to President of the JSA/CASE Alumni, Mr. Webster McPherson, the venue was chosen because “central Jamaica seems to suffer more from praedial larceny than other areas.”
Chairman of the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA), Ambassador Derrick Heaven said that the theme was appropriate, since “there is no doubt in anyone’s mind who seriously understands the agricultural sector, the extent to which praedial larceny is a significant deterrent to agriculture.”
He argued that the attitude of the judiciary and the police toward praedial larceny and crimes against farmers needs to be adjusted, as these attitudes sometimes result in persons dispensing their own justice.
“I think that the Resident Magistrates, like the police, have a critical role to play in the fight against praedial larceny and the attitude of the police and the judiciary needs to be adjusted. You will find that a number of farmers, rather than going to the police station to make a report, they decide to dispense their own justice, which is a dangerous thing, but to some extent results from their view of (how leniently praedial thieves are treated) when the police take them to court,” he said.
Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Marc Panton outlined five initiatives by the Ministry to tackle praedial larceny, including the appointment of a Praedial Larceny Prevention Co-ordinator; a public awareness campaign; partnership with Crime Stop; sensitisation of the Police and the Judiciary; and implementation of a traceability system.
He pointed out that the receipt book system will be relaunched in order to have a traceability system, which is crucial to Jamaica, in terms of the export trade and the tourism sector.
President of the JAS, Mr. Glendon Harris said that praedial larceny was costing the agricultural sector millions of dollars per annum.
“When one considers the impact of praedial larceny on the livelihood of the farmers of Jamaica, then one would be confronted with a devastating reality that the losses extend far greater than its monetary value. Praedial larceny has stifled the growth and development of the agricultural sector. This illegal practice must therefore be effectively checked and controlled before it jeopardises the nation’s future,” he said.
He also called on farmers to embrace the receipt book system and emphasised that the JAS will support any initiative to combat praedial larceny.
Co-ordinator for the Praedial Larceny Prevention Programme, Lt. Colonel Paul Dunn said that a number of laws which contain inconsistencies will be re-examined, with a view to regularising them.
“The Legislation and Enforcement Sub-committee is reviewing and making recommendations for amendments to the Acts that are associated with the fight against praedial larceny, including the Agricultural and Produce Act; the Praedial Larceny Prevention Act; the Trespass Act; the Malicious Injury to Property Act, and the Larceny Act,” he noted.
He added that a sensitisation programme on praedial larceny, aimed at the police and the judiciary, is also being worked on.
“I have already had a long discussion with the Chief Justice, who will be taking that aspect of it forward to the Resident Magistrates,” the Co-ordinator said.

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