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Farmer under attack by gunmen

RACHELLE AGARD, [email protected]

Farmer under attack by gunmen

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A small crop farmer is fed up with recurring praedial larceny; even coming close to losing his life on one occasion.

Kenneth Blades has been farming at Kirtons, St Philip, for the last four years on land leased from Foursquare Estate.

“From the time I started farming here, I have been having some problems as a result of praedial larceny, and from time to time I have encountered some severe attacks on my life and so on from unscrupulous people who come to steal the produce,” he told the DAILY NATION in an interview Monday.

He said on several occasions he was threatened by gunfire in the fields.

“I was actually fired at and shots went through my car last year. I could have been crippled and it’s only by the grace of God I was not hit. In the past, farmers I have been associated with have lost their lives as a result of this. I can relate to a close friend of mine, Richard Shepherd, who was a farmer also and he was shot in his home,” he said.

Shepherd, a retired plantation manager at the Ridge Plantation, Christ Church, and an active farmer, was killed more than a year ago at his Bamboo Avenue, Mapps, St Philip home in what police have said was a robbery gone wrong. To date, no-one has been charged for his death.

“I don’t want this to happen to me, . . . I am therefore appealing to those persons out there, who are constantly causing headaches for me here, to stop from stealing,” he said. 

The St Philip resident added that as recently as last weekend, he was threatened while going about his business in the field.

“I had an encounter here where a person was caught and taken before the court. He has pleaded guilty to two of the three charges and was granted bail. Another attack followed Friday night into Saturday morning. That person has also been taken to court, and the magistrate has sentenced him to three months for stealing from these fields here,” he said.

While Blades said the police did patrols in the area, he contended more could be done to assist the small farmers.

“I do get some help from the police . . . . The representative for St Philip South, [Attorney General] Adriel Brathwaite visited me. He knows the situation, and he tried to speak to the police at District “C” to try to get them to step up surveillance around here. I myself have seen them from time to time passing through.

“It seems to be no end in sight to this kind of behaviour, and I think it is time the Government of Barbados look at ways and means to how they can combat praedial larceny, even if it a means that they try to help the farmers by installing some sort of security system where we would not have to confront vicious criminals. We understand and know fully well that this type of behaviour will continue, and in order to stamp it out we have to do something more,” he said, adding that situations such as this caused extensive frustration and had left him contemplating changing jobs.

Government recently passed extensive praedial larceny legislation. (RA)