EDITORIAL: Take action now against praedial larceny


ONE of the questions raised at an investment forum a few years ago was ‘Why is this country not seeing a lot of new investments in Agriculture?’ – a query to which there were a number of good responses.
Explanations ranged from the low returns on investments in the sector, to the fact that farmers are not receiving the necessary financial support. It also included the view that not many people who matter take agriculture seriously.
Praedial larceny was also factored into the equation. That it continues to be raised as a subject that demands urgent attention further highlights what the farming community faces and whether this country really wants to see a thriving agricultural sector.
President of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) James Paul is quoted in the weekend press as saying that there is need for more effective monitoring of local markets where produce is sold. This, he explained, is to ensure that crop thieves do not have an easy avenue through which they can get rid of stolen crops. Those who consume the produce are not aware whether the commodities were ready for market and they too are exposing themselves to harm. Mr. Paul’s comments are based on what he said are the increasing numbers of complaints his association receives from BAS members.
Even people with small backyard plots are falling victim to crop thieves. They are stealing papaws, they are stealing ground provisions, corns, and bananas. This is what Barbados has come to: a nation of thieves.
But how long has this country been hearing the appeals from stakeholders in Agriculture about this vexing problem? The answer is far too long.
At the seminar it was suggested that praedial larceny is now a big business that is ruining the efforts of existing farmers. Farmers go to sleep leaving acres of crops only to awake the next morning to see empty fields. In the meantime that produce turns up at outlets across the country and the livelihood and hard work of those who dare to put their money into agriculture lose out.
Furthermore, those who persist come face to face with cheaper imports, which are propped up by subsidies and all other forms of Government support in the countries where the imports originate.
This makes the situation very frustrating and scary if the country wants to lift agriculture to a new level and have a broader base economy, assuming that is the future for the country.
Year after year AgroFest demonstrates that agriculture is alive and kicking in Barbados. The variety of produce on display, the interest shown by people across sub groups and their commitment should be enough to indicate to the powers that be that tough action is required to combat crop theft. In an environment where jobs are hard to come by and people turn to agriculture to survive, their efforts should be applauded. In any case a thriving agricultural sector can also redound to the benefit of the local economy.
It is the responsibility of those in authority to do something about praedial larceny. Do not allow it to remain an issue for farmers. Too much time has elapsed and we have to do better.

Barbados Advocate

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