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EDITORIAL: All hands on deck against predial larceny


BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: All hands on deck against predial larceny

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There can be no doubt about the importance of agriculture to this island’s economic well-being and also helping to safeguard against environmental degradation.
We have long recognized the positive impact working of the land and rearing of livestock have had on our growth and development both at the national level and, indeed, for the farmer, whether big or small.  
We know that farming is a challenging business and even with the enhanced use of technology in the industry today, it can still be a laborious undertaking, characterized by various risks. All too often farmers have complained about the impact of the weather – too much rain or a devastating drought – and about diseases which create havoc on both animals and plants, and also about the headaches of not having readily available markets.
These are some of the many hurdles that confront our farmers and can determine whether they continue their arduous tasks or decide to give way to either the commercial or residential developers for a higher return – even if a one-off gain.
Like any other business undertaking, farming requires good judgement and thorough planning – from the farm to the market gate. That is why we salute all those in the sector who, despite the various risks, are willing to continue working in the various aspects of farming. Their efforts save this country foreign exchange, provide jobs and offer us healthy choices in our food supply chain.
It was therefore disheartening to hear of the recent incidents where food crop farmers lost a large quantity of their produce to crop thieves. These brazen criminals were not satisfied with a single raid of the sweet potato fields but showed their total disregard for other people’s property by returning to make off with another large theft. We can only conclude from the type of theft and the expertise required that it was undertaken by those with the knowledge of where to go for the crop. It also indicates that there is a readily available market for stolen produce and livestock, given the frequency with which such acts take place.
While we hear words of disgust, there is need for real action against these hardened criminals. It is obvious that something must be done to resolve this problem. Despite limited resources, the police must be more involved; the judiciary must also play its role with appropriate court sentencing; and the farmers themselves must be more innovative in protecting their businesses. Most importantly, the community must be involved, since the criminals come from among us and their actions will be known to us. We must not protect a few deviants, making jokes of their crimes while frustrating honest hard-working farmers. The entire society needs to respond effectively to those who so cruelly try to destroy our agriculture sector.

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