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The Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) has intensified its fight against praedial larceny and has completed the printing of approximately 100,000 receipt books for distribution to farmers over the next four months.
This announcement was made by Senator Norman Grant, President of the JAS, at a praedial larceny training workshop, held at the JAS head office in Kingston today (January 18).
Senator Grant said the receipt books would be distributed at the praedial larceny road shows to be held islandwide.
“These road shows will extend to March 31, 2007, and this will be done on an islandwide basis, particularly in the areas where farmers reside,” he pointed out.Farmers are required to have receipt books to conduct agricultural transactions with merchants. Road shows that are planned for the month of February will be held in the parishes of Manchester, Clarendon, St. Thomas and Trelawny.
The praedial larceny road shows are aimed at taking the receipt books to the farmers, and to make them available in Parish Offices across the island.
The road shows also aim to increase the registration of farmers through the collaborative efforts of the JAS and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA); to enable the Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF) members to get acquainted and build close relationships with genuine farmers, and to answer any queries that farmers and buyers may have about the receipt books.
In the meantime, Senator Grant said that praedial larceny costs the agricultural sector $4 billion every year, which represents 15 per cent of the total production in the agricultural sector.
“As for the implementation of the praedial larceny initiative, we do not have a choice. It has to work, because it is a clear strategy that is going to reposition agriculture, not as a Cinderella of the economy, but as the sector which is going to create significant growth, development and opportunities for rural communities,” Senator Grant emphasised.
The President urged members of the ISCF to take a zero tolerance approach to the Praedial Larceny Act, because “there are people who have a vested interest in this initiative not working and therefore we must send a strong message to them that it is going to work”.
To date, 92,000 farmers out of a farming population of 220,000 have signed up to get their receipt books.Senator Grant said the JAS was making some strong recommendations to the Government. “The registration of the farmers and the selling of the receipt books is just the beginning of a cocktail approach in dealing with this problem,” he informed.
“Every higgler who is selling agricultural produce is to be registered. We are also recommending that every butcher who slaughters animals also have a licence, in the same way you issue a spirit licence to the bar operator to sell liquor,” he said.
“We want to see those butchers go through special training to ensure that even during the slaughtering of animals, it is not done in a manner that is not humane,” Senator Grant added.
The President said he is encouraging all farmers across the island to get registered, so that they can receive their receipt books.
“It is our united plea to the farmers therefore to give the system a chance to work and if we as farmers fail to do this, we have no one to blame but ourselves,” Senator Grant said.