Jamaican farmers suffer losses of up to $5 billion per annum due to praedial larceny, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Christopher Tufton, has stated.
Dr. Tufton said the crime can no longer be regarded as petty theft, but as organised criminal activity which is crippling the survival of up to 230,000 individuals, directly, and almost a million more, indirectly,
He was speaking Thursday (May 20) at the launch of the Praedial Larceny Prevention Programme, at the Hilton Hotel, New Kingston.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Christopher Tufton (right), in dialogue with, from left, Deputy Commandant of the Island Special Constabulary Force (SCF), James Golding, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Clifford Blake and Minister of National Security, Senator Dwight Nelson, following the launch of the Praedial Larceny Prevention Programme at the Hilton Hotel, New Kingston Thursday (May 20).
Dr. Tufton said that his Ministry, in collaboration with a number of stakeholders including the Ministries of National Security and Health, Television Jamaica (TVJ) and Crime Stop, will be working together to curtail the problem. But, he told the audience that to effectively get rid of praedial larceny, a holistic and joint approach is needed.
The prevention programme will, therefore, utilise a five-pronged approach to tackle the issue, he said.
“It is a large challenge, and it’s a challenge that cannot be solved by any one particular group. What I’ve tried to do, is to get all the critical stakeholders to understand that there has to be a holistic approach, and each of us needs to define our role, but to also understand the role of others in order to tackle and confront this challenge,” he added.
As part of its plan to eradicate praedial larceny, the Ministry will seek to execute a public awarenesss programme aimed at educating the public about laws governing the crime. The campaign will also seek to encourage the reporting of incidences of praedial larceny.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Christopher Tufton, speaking at the launch of the Praedial Larceny Prevention Programme at the Hilton Hotel, New Kingston, on Thursday (May 20). Looking on from left are: Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Donovan Stanberry, and Representative of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Beverley Rose-Forbes.
The Praedial Larceny Prevention Programme will also seek to sensitise the judiciary and police, in order to engender awareness about the seriousness of the act, and to ensure that this is reflected in the enforcement measures adopted by the police.
The project, according to Dr. Tufton, also envisions the strengthening of existing laws with stiffer penalties to discourage the practice, as well as the establishment of traceability systems to track the movement of food “from farm to fork.”
Meanwhile, the Minister argued that although agriculture plays a significant role in Jamaica’s economy, over the years many stakeholders and investors have begun to withdraw from the industry, due to the perception of risk and uncertainty plaguing the sector.
“A very big part of that risk is the reality, as expressed by so many persons who have experienced it, that when they sow they are unlikely to reap. Deviant behaviour through praedial larceny has emerged as a critical threat to the development and the investment potential of the agricultural sector,” the Minister stated.