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All talk about crop theft


LENNOX CHANDLER

All talk about crop theft

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OVER THE YEARS, there has been much debate in various fora regarding the issue of predial larceny in Barbados.

Quite recently several members of the House of Assembly have lent their voices to the debate on this egregious plague that incessantly confronts the Barbadian farming community.

Whilst undertaking research on Barbadian agriculture, I came across an article written by Mr C.C. Skeete, assistant director in the Department of Science and Agriculture in the year 1930.

(It appears that back then the importance of science was understood) I thought it would be useful to share it with your readers:-“Theft of field crops, fruit and livestock is conducted on an extensive scale throughout all villages of the island.

It is claimed to be more acute in some villages than others. “In many districts the prevalence of theft definitely prevents the cultivation of certain crops.

For example, many proprietors in the wetter districts would grow bananas and green crops, which would greatly add to the revenue of their holdings, especially in periods of low prices in the major crops, but the former crops are stolen on such a scale as to render their growth and cultivation an actual loss.

“Many small cultivators regularly every year lose by theft a proportion of their yam, sweet potato or eddoes crops.

Sugar cane are frequently broken out, but the loss to an individual grower is rarely heavy in this crop, although some cultivators have found it distinctly advantageous to plant a variety of sugar cane which is so hard as to be unpopular for chewing.

“In the fruit-growing districts great losses are experienced from theft of bananas, breadfruit, citrus fruit, golden apples and avocado pears.

“The prevalence of theft of livestock in many cases deters peasants from raising poultry, sheep and goats.

In order to ensure safety of the latter, peasants frequently secure such animals under, or occasionally inside their houses at night.

It is not uncommon even for pigs and large calves to be stolen.

”On a recent call-in programme, the moderator suggested that it has been about 20 years that we have been kicking around the predial larceny football.

Well, it is more like 80 years. What conclusions can be drawn?

LENNOX CHANDLER

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