Jamaica News: The Government plans to amend the Agricultural Produce Act to ensure farmers are able to recover the full cost of their produce, if stolen.
The proposed amendments include increasing fines from $250,000 to $3 million; expanding the definition of praedial larceny; and simplifying the procedures for registering and licensing all handlers of agricultural produce.
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. William J.C. Hutchinson, says these are part of strategies to combat praedial larceny with which “we have a problem”.
“We find that in many areas, it is rampant… and we are looking to see how best we can put things in place to deter these thieves from preying on farmers,” he said.
The Minister was addressing farmers at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) agricultural development stakeholders’ forum at the Richmond Gap Church of God of Prophecy, St. Thomas, on Tuesday (August 21).
Mr. Hutchinson said the proposed amendment of the Act aims to enforce harsher penalties on persons charged with praedial larceny.
“What we are putting in place (intends to ensure) that anybody who is caught and charged by the court… must pay back the equivalent of the cost of the produce that is stolen,” he said.
The Minister noted that, in a number of instances when farmers lose their crops or livestock, they spend several days going to court adding that “when the thief is charged, it is (sometimes) like a tap on the wrist.”
“The farmer must get back what he has lost, and we are talking about 100 per cent of the value,” Mr. Hutchinson emphasised.
The forum was held to explore and discuss how community development can be spurred through agriculture.
Source: JIS News