Amended Act Sends Clear Message to Praedial Thieves


Farmers islandwide can now breathe a sigh of relief with respect to the safety of their agricultural produce, as the amended Agricultural Produce Act passed recently by the Senate has put tighter penalties in place, with the aim of reducing acts of praedial larceny.
Included in the new Act is the provision of a compulsory receipt book system to be used by farmers in conducting their transactions; extension of the scope of what constitutes ‘agricultural produce’, by incorporating certain kinds of produce that were omitted from the old Act; and putting harsher penalties in place for apprehended praedial thieves.
Speaking at a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’, President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Senator Norman Grant said that the provisions under the new Act, would significantly hinder the activities of praedial larcenists who “have cost the country, and in particular the agricultural sector, $4 billion per annum, a total of 25 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for agriculture”.
The President further noted the importance of putting these provisions in place at this time, when the sector is currently undergoing rehabilitation after Hurricane Ivan in September. He also asserted that the amended Act showed the seriousness of the Ministry of Agriculture to combat the actions of praedial thieves, who were not only affecting the GDP of the country, but the livelihood of farmers.
One of the benefits of the amended Act, Senator Grant explained, was the inclusion of fish and livestock, which under the old Act, were not classified as ‘agricultural produce’. Under the old Act, if fish, eggs, goats, and other livestock were stolen, the praedial larcenist could not be accused of committing a breach. However, under the amended Act, committing such acts is considered a breach, and constitutes a fine.
Offences committed under the amended Act, Senator Grant noted, now attracted a fine of $200,000, up from $1,000 that was charged under the old Act.
Among the animals included in the new Act, Senator Grant said, were chickens (layers, broilers), peacocks, ducks, cattle, pigs, goats, rabbits, dogs, donkeys, mules, horses, buffaloes, geese, fish and all other marine and aqua- cultural products.
According to the President, the praedial larceny programme would be a collaborative effort between the JAS and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), which would involve each institution undertaking specific functions that related to the programme.
While both organizations would be overseeing the praedial larceny programme, Senator Grant said it was very important for persons at the community level to get involved in the process, by assisting the Police in apprehending known praedial larcenists, as well as putting systems in place to allow them to be on the watch for praedial thieves.
Senator Grant revealed that the JAS has begun a public education programme, aimed at educating both farmers and the population in general about the consequences of praedial larceny and the importance of supporting the programme. The JAS, he said, would set out to get a national consensus on the issue, and would begin adopting a zero tolerance approach to praedial larceny come next year January.

JIS Social