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Minister of Agriculture, Roger Clarke has said that the government was working to put the farmer registration process in place as quickly as possible, as part of efforts to control praedial larceny.
The Minister, who was speaking recently at the annual general meeting of the Manchester Association of Branch Societies of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) held at the Mandeville parish church hall, said it was unfair to expect farmers to dramatically increase production without a proper system in place to control the high levels of farm theft.
“It is time we put an end to it (praedial larceny), because it is the greatest deterrent to agricultural production in Jamaica. Farmers are willing to endure all kinds of adversity such as flood, fire or drought; what really turns them off is when they plant and cannot reap. If you know the amount of people who want to plant but are afraid,” he stated.
He pointed out that in most cases, the farmers had to borrow money to plant and at the end of the day, there is nothing to show for their efforts. “I know of cases where people plant yam and when it is time to reap all that is present is the vine and at the end of the day there is nothing for the farmer after waiting for nine months. The same can be said for persons engaged in inland fishery.criminality is the order of the day,” he noted.
The Agriculture Minister stated that the only way to effectively deal with the problem was for farmers to come together as a united group and he encouraged them to get registered under the system that was being set up.
Turning to the export market, Minister Clarke stated that government was embarking on a new strategy to increase exports, which involved targeting specific crops such as hot pepper. “When you understand that any amount of hot pepper that you produce there is a market for it, then my word to the farmers is to go into this area of production. There are some who love to cultivate sweet pepper because it is bigger, I know.every day I get calls from persons saying that they need scotch bonnet for export,” he said.