Praedial larceny on Gov't radar this year
The Government is spending more in this year's Budget to fight praedial larceny under its Praedial Larceny Prevention Programme.
This year's Estimates of Expenditure, which were tabled in Parliament on Thursday, show that the programme will receive $7.4 million, up from the $5.7 million that was set aside in the Budget last fiscal year.
The programme is critical to the livelihood of farmers as farm theft is said to be the single largest problem facing the agricultural sector.
The agriculture ministry is seeking to institutionalise the programme, with the aim of having a sustained reduction in the incidence of praedial larceny. This will involve revision of the laws governing produce and trade in agriculture.
At the same time, the ministry has allocated $200 million in the Budget for production incentives to small farmers. The objective is to assist the most vulnerable farmers in their efforts at production.
Farmers will be provided with seedlings, spraying equipment, fertilisers, plant protection chemicals, feed, and day-old chicks.
The allocation is intended to achieve 20 per cent self-sufficiency in onion production through the establishment of 180 hectares of onions; maintaining 100 per cent self-sufficiency in table Irish potato production; and increasing ginger and turmeric production by cultivating 120 hectares open-field and 10 hectares shade-house ginger, as well as 22 hectares of turmeric.
DAIRY SECTOR GETS BOOST
The Government is also taking steps to encourage the expansion of the local dairy industry, with an $83.5 million allocation to the Jamaica Dairy Development Board (JDDB), the agency responsible for developing policy and monitoring the growth and revitalisation of the sector.
The revitalisation of the dairy sector is part of the national drive to enhance food security, livelihood protection, and rural development.
Of the more than $83 million allocated to the JDDB, nearly $68 million is to facilitate loans and equity investments as well as grants to cattle producers for herd expansion, productivity enhancement, and farmer training.
The Government has also earmarked $30 million to assist with the design works and implementation systems to facilitate irrigation of areas designated under the agro-parks initiative, including Ebony Park, Meylersfield, Non Such, and Shettlewood.
The overall sum allocated to the Ministry of Agriculture this fiscal year is $4.3 billion, compared with the $3.9 billion allocated to fund the ministry's programmes last year.