Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, says praedial larceny is having a multifaceted effect on the wellbeing of the country, and is proposing harsher penalties for praedial larcenists.
He described them as a scourge on the land, in terms of their impact on agricultural production in the country.
"They have made our farmers have sleepless nights. It (praedial larceny) is now a major economic activity, and what is even worse, when these (thieves) go to the field, if the farmer is there, he had better hide, because his life is threatened," the Minister said.
Mr. Clarke was addressing a Sensitisation Seminar for Clerks of the Court, on: 'Challenges of Praedial Larceny', staged at the Braco Village Hotel and Spa, in Trelawny, on July 21.
The Minister underscored the importance of Clerks of the Court to the process of curtailing praedial larceny.
"You are the ones who are going to make it happen, because the way you prosecute, that is what is going to make things really gel,” he told them.
The Minister argued that the society ought to begin to understand the challenges that farmers face, and that examples must be made of persons found guilty of the crime of praedial larceny, if the activity is to be controlled.
Pointing out that the loss to praedial larceny in 2011 was approximately $5 billion, the Minister emphasised that it is threatening the food security of the country and driving away young people from agriculture.
"We have to find a way to make our farmers feel happy and feel safe as they go about their business to try to feed this nation," he said.
The seminar was organised by the Ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, the Justice Training Institute and Court Management Services.