JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Farmers in Portland are to benefit from the recent launch of three Farm Watches in the parish by the Community Safety and Security Branch (CSSB) to reduce praedial larceny
  • It is a crime-prevention programme designed for residents in farming communities, geared towards protecting farms and their resources. It is a subset of the Neighbourhood Watch Programme.

Farmers in Portland are to benefit from the recent launch of three Farm Watch groups in the parish by the Community Safety and Security Branch (CSSB) to reduce praedial larceny.

The watches have been set up in the communities of Manchioneal, Snow Hill and Cambridge, the pioneer groups in Portland.

Coordinator for the Farm Watch Programme, Sergeant Maurice McLean, told the farmers that one of the main objectives is to ensure that farmers receive major returns on their investments.

“When you invest in farming you want to see the profit, you want to ensure that your dreams and aspirations are fulfilled, and that’s why we want the farm watch to be a success,” Sergeant McLean said.

He explained that the farm watch is not solely to address praedial larceny, but to empower farmers to be proactive. The police conduct farm visits and security surveys to mitigate the security risks that will provide an opportunity for thieves, he noted.

In addition, Mr. McLean said that police officers islandwide are trained to identify cases of praedial larceny, conduct security audits on farms, strategise with farmers to make their farms and cattle safer, and to use the law to protect victims.

“We encourage the use of technology, because the criminals use their network to alert each other, so we have to use these devices. Also, you have to incorporate young people who can use them for your benefit,” he said.

Sergeant McLean advised the farmers to capture videos and images of their animals to use as evidence, if they are ever required to identify them.

Meanwhile, Parish Manager of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) in Portland, Erica Daley, extended an invitation to stakeholders to assist the farmers.

Ms. Daley told the farmers at the launch that the farm watch will help them to be more proactive; for example, putting more lighting on their farms, establishing perimeter fencing and breaking their routine.

“We are encouraging you to get registered with RADA as a farmer and do not share or sell pages from the receipt book issued to you as farmers, because you compromise the system and you can be charged for that,” she said.

The Parish Manager emphasised that praedial larceny is everyone’s business because in addition to loss of return on investment for farmers, food safety is equally at risk, as when thieves reap produce recently fertilised and sell it on the market, people’s health can be affected.

Livestock farmer from the Cambridge community, Laidley Bishop, told JIS News that he is grateful for the efforts of the stakeholders, especially the police.

“I think it is a good programme. If all of us just work together then it will be better. This is a big step for us. All the honest people in Jamaica should want to see this programme succeed, because it is our source of livelihood,” he said.

Mr. Bishop said that RADA should follow up with the group and provide assistance where necessary to sustain the groups.

“Before we could even think about this initiative, people would steal goats, pigs and cows. I think that will be different now that we have people on board to help us,” he added.

The farm watch is endorsed by the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Praedial Larceny Prevention Unit, Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA), All Island Banana Growers Association and RADA.

It is a crime-prevention programme designed for residents in farming communities, geared towards protecting farms and their resources. It is a subset of the Neighbourhood Watch Programme.