JIS News

In keeping with the requirements of the amended Agricultural Produce Act, which was passed recently by the Senate, farmers will soon be required to utilize a special Agricultural Receipt Book when conducting agricultural transactions with merchants.
The receipt book system, expected to come on stream fully in 2005, is part of the Ministry of Agriculture’s endeavour to crack down on praedial larceny across the island, which has cost the sector approximately $4 billion in revenue per annum.
Speaking with JIS News, President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Senator Norman Grant said that the special receipt books would be printed as soon as the Act is gazzetted. He added that the Ministry of Agriculture has already committed $5 million for the printing of the books.
“The receipt book system will certainly be in the best interest of the farmer and the trader, as the issuing of receipts is part of everyday business. All we are trying to do is to streamline agriculture, so that people don’t see agriculture as a second class profession.it’s a profession that has contributed to the development of Jamaica and there is no reason we shouldn’t try to rebrand the image of agriculture,” Senator Grant explained.
“When you talk about farming, people don’t want to treat it as a business, when in fact it is a business,” he emphasized.
The President pointed out that while the distribution of the receipt books would be the responsibility of the JAS, registration of the farmers would be done by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA). Registration, currently underway in the eastern parishes of St. Andrew, St. Thomas, St. Mary and Portland, would be done on a phased basis in the other parishes.
Senator Grant said in the event that a farmer was not part of the registration conducted by RADA, but visited a JAS office branch for a receipt book, the JAS would facilitate the registration process.
The farmer, he said, would be issued with a temporary registration number, while the information provided by the farmer would be sent to RADA for verification. After the verification process, the farmer would then be issued with a permanent registration number, along with a registration certificate.
Manager of Information Communication Technology at RADA, Douglas Nelson, said that it was important for farmers to become a part of the Agricultural Business Information System (ABIS) registry, which would be a criterion for farmers to access the receipt books from the JAS.
He stressed that the registration process was a driving force in stemming the scourge of praedial larceny, as it would serve to legitimize bona fide farmers.
It would also facilitate collecting, storing and verifying the information provided by the farmers, as it related to their levels of agricultural production, and their farmlands. The process “has nothing to do with taxation”, he emphasized.
Mr. Nelson explained that after the farmer was verified, he or she would be issued with a registration certificate, which should then be used in accordance with his or her farmer photo identification to access the Agricultural Receipt Book.
Senator Grant said that each receipt book would have a unique farmer registration number, which would be the same number given during registration.
He added that if a Police Officer needed verification that the agricultural produce in the possession of a merchant was obtained legitimately, the receipt he obtained from the farmer would be his or her proof. If the agricultural goods are given as a gift, a receipt should still be given.
The praedial larceny programme, Senator Grant said, was a collaborative effort among the JAS, RADA, and the Ministry of National Security, with each group having special responsibilities.
As a result, the President pointed out that in January 2005, the JAS and RADA would be signing a Memorandum of Understanding, which would stipulate the functions of each group.

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