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The Ministry of Agriculture will be spending some $22 million for the printing of 100,000 receipt books to verify the legitimacy of produce under the project to stamp out predial larceny.
Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) President, Senator Norman Grant, who made the disclosure as he addressed the Goat Breeder’s Society of Jamaica exposition on October 1 at the Bodles Agricultural Research Station in Old Harbour, said that the Ministry had released $5 million for the printing of the first 30,000 books.
He informed that the National Contracts Commission was reviewing the proposal for the award of the $22 million contract and once approval was received, the JAS “will be pressing ahead to print this 100,000 receipt books to distribute to farmers island wide so that persons who purchase can now be issued with a receipt”.
“If persons don’t have the receipts and the police stop them on the highway, then the police is going to seize the goods and they will have to prove to the police how they came in possession of those goods,” the JAS President said.
He noted that of 93,000 farmers in the island, some 40 per cent or about 37,000 have already been registered under the Agricultural Business Information Systems (ABIS) Programme, which was a criteria for farmers to access the receipt books from the JAS.
By registering under ABIS, “every single farmer in Jamaica eventually will have an identification number and when they transact business, will be asked to do so by using the receipts books,” Senator Grant explained.
Meanwhile, the JAS President informed that the Ministry of National Security had assigned two officers from the Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF) to work out of the JAS office in Kingston and they will assist the JAS and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) to establish the mode of operation to wipe out praedial larceny.
In addition, 13 ISCF officers will be assigned to the various parishes to preside over the implementation of the praedial larceny programme.
“I feel that in the first year, if we are not able to eradicate it (praedial larceny), then it will be the beginning of a process whereby in another 20 years or earlier, we would not be losing such huge profits to the hands of those who continue to reap where they have not sown,” the JAS President said.
He described praedial larceny as a “cancer” which affected the agricultural sector, with farmers losing $4 billion or 25 per cent of production.