Praedial larceny a troubling issue for farmers
Fri, 04/15/2016 - 12:00am
Regina Selman Moore
Rearing crops is a hard job and local farmers should not have to suffer continually at the hands of thieves, while scratching their heads to come up with novel security measures to protect their crops.
These sentiments were expressed about three years ago by a high ranking officer in the Royal Barbados Police Force, as he spoke to members of the farming community based in the south of the island, who had come together to try to find solutions to the troubling issue of praedial larceny. At that time, members of the Force made it clear that the cries of farmers would not fall on deaf ears.
We can all see that the matter of praedial larceny is still a big issue today. Just few weeks ago, CEO of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS), James Paul, called for the relevant authorities to effectively monitor local markets where produce is being sold, to ensure that crop thieves do not have an easy avenue through which they can get rid of stolen crops. Paul highlighted that he was receiving a whole volume of complaints from frustrated farmers about brazen crop thieves, who were “actively engaging in the stealing of crops”.
Now we all know that farming is a business that involves hard work, commitment, diligence and patience, and the fact that it is done against the backdrop of uncertain weather conditions makes it even more strenuous. So having made great sacrifices to reach the final stages of production, it must be quite frustrating to find that crop thieves have descended on your fields to reap that which they did not sow.
Farmers then lose out on thousands of dollars of anticipated income expected to pay bills, pay workers and to support their families, and our crippled agricultural sector is delivered another steady blow. What makes this scenario worse, is that the stolen produce inevitably finds its way into vending trays, supermarkets and shops and onto our plates, to the benefit of the crop thieves who have made good on the opportunity to harvest the food items when they believe no one is watching.
Members of the Royal Barbados Police Force however must be lauded for their recent efforts to send the message that praedial larceny will not be tolerated. It is up to our court system now to reinforce this message. Of course, every accused persons is innocent until proven guilty, but once found guilty, the perpetrators should be dealt with accordingly, given the legislation that is in place.
Seriously, let’s think about it. After investing all the time and energy and funds required to bring your crops to harvesting stage, who wants to wake up in anticipation of reaping that crop only to find that crop thieves will be the ones benefiting from your hard labour? Imagine if the average Barbadian complains about a little midday sunshine, what about those in the farming community who have to be out in the fields at all hours of the day planting crops so we can be more self-sufficient? Place yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if for weeks or months on end you nurtured your crops and then, out of the blue, you are faced with an empty field and someone else gets to enjoy the fruits of your labour? Wouldn't that anger you?
We really need to support those who work in our local farming community in their endeavours to keep food on our tables. Moreover, if we want to see more young people getting involved in agriculture, we must show that that we value a farmer as much as we do a doctor or a lawyer. After all, every professional I know has to eat to live and having little to no horticultural skills, these professionals have to rely on others with the know-how to do so.