President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Glendon Harris, says the renewed effort by the Government to reduce praedial larceny is motivating farmers to stay in agriculture.
Speaking at the Annual General Meeting of the JAS, St. James parish organisation, held at the St. John’s Methodist Church, in Montego Bay, on June 20, Mr. Harris said that farmers across the island are pleased with the number of arrests and conviction of persons who steal agricultural produce.
He said the work of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) to promote the Agricultural Business Information System (ABIS), has helped to sensitise farmers in the protection of their crops.
Singling out the parish of St. Thomas, where several persons have been fined or convicted recently for agricultural theft, the JAS President said the organisation has seen a growth in membership due to the work of the police to combat praedial larceny. “My last check revealed that the membership of the Jamaica Agricultural Society, since January, has grown by over three thousand new members,” Mr. Harris said.
“This we can attribute to the fact that praedial larceny is now being enforced in several parishes, particularly in St. Thomas. The sales of receipt books have grown, and the police in that parish, and the Courts are working together to ensure that they rid the parish of praedial thieves,” the President said.
“That has stimulated the farmers to register with RADA on the ABIS system, to join up with the JAS and be able to purchase their receipt books where they can trade like business people,” Mr. Harris said.
Recently the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries re-launched the receipt book system with a commitment to curb the high level of theft of agricultural produce. The initiative requires that all registered farmers and vendors must issue a receipt, identifiable by a unique number, to anyone who purchases agricultural produce, as proof of payment. It is estimated that farmers lose some $5 billion each year to theft.
Mr. Harris, who is also President of the St. James JAS, announced that the organisation is supporting some 100 farmers in the parish to increase yam production. He told the gathering that the objective is geared at “ensuring that at least one hundred more acres of yam are grown in the parish."
The parish delegates returned Mr. Harris as President, and the Executive to serve another one year term.
By Garfield L. Angus, JIS Reporter