Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, has suggested the implementation of a specific timeframe within which scrap metal stakeholders be allowed to engage in trading.
He said that this would form part of measures to ensure that valuable equipment, which have been stolen, are not sold within the trade.
“I am of the view that we need to consider having a closed season for the scrap metal trade. We do it with so many different species in an effort to sustain those sectors, the lobster industry, the conch industry,” he said.
“I don’t think we should be shipping out scrap out of Jamaica more than three months in every year,” Dr. Tufton suggested.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton inspecting equipment at the Colbeck Irrigation System in St. Catherine, where scrap metal thieves have vandalised critical agricultural infrastructure at the pumping station, with losses estimated at some $5 million. Occasion was a tour of the facility on April 22.
He said that for the rest of the year, time should be allowed for scrap to be accumulated, before it is gathered and shipped out.
“If you allow it to be an ongoing process, there is going to be the temptation by those who are searching for a way to earn, to prey and feed on legitimate businesses, as is now the case,” he told JIS News.
He was speaking today (April 22) at the Colbeck Irrigation System in St. Catherine, where scrap metal thieves vandalised critical agricultural infrastructure at the pumping station, with losses estimated at some $5 million.
The Minister also suggested that the operations within the trade be consolidated in an effort to monitor and ensure that the items being shipped are indeed scrap. He added that a comprehensive review, involving all the stakeholders and including legitimate businesses who have become victims, should be undertaken.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton (left), speaking with Chief Executive Officer (CEO), National Irrigation Commission (NIC), Stanley Rampair (right), during a tour of the Colbeck Irrigation System in St. Catherine on April 22, where scrap metal thieves have vandalised critical agricultural infrastructure at the pumping station, with losses estimated at some $5 million. Others from (second left) are: His Worship the Mayor of Portmore, Keith Hinds and farmer in the area, Michael Donegan.
To this end he said that a collaborative effort among Ministers and the relevant stakeholders must be taken to curb the theft and sale of equipment.
“In the case of agriculture, over the last year, we have lost approximately $100 million from sugar, from National Irrigation Commission (NIC) and from other operations within agriculture. We just can’t afford it,” he bemoaned.
“The (scrap metal) industry has become more of a hindrance to legitimate operations, than a productive endeavour that supports itself. The industry has become parasitic in nature, as it is feeding on legitimate operations in order to survive and that should not be allowed to happen,” he said.
The Agriculture Minister said that the rate at which scrap is being produced is slower than the requirements of the sector and, as such, measures should be implemented to ensure that scrap is not being taken from legitimate operations.
A farmer, Mr. Samuel Buchanan, said that the vandalisation has caused “a big setback” for farmers within the area, as they were well prepared for the water system to be implemented. He stated that the farmers will now be more vigilant in terms of securing the area.
Director of the National Irrigation Development Programme, Mr. Milton Henry, said that some of the electrical cables were damaged on the outside, while the motor control centre and some cable from the centre to the motor have been vandalised.
The irrigation system supports the farmers’ production of crops such as sweet pepper, onions, cassava and other cash crops.
The Colbeck Irrigation System, funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), benefits approximately 90 farmers on over 200 acres.