Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Letter of the Day: I've lost faith in Jamaica

Published:Friday | October 2, 2015 | 10:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

The main reason the local Jamaican dairy and beef industry is flat on its face and/or its back is because of the rampant farm theft from which we suffer and successive governments' incompetence and inability to prevent or halt the scourge. I have personally suffered.

I tried to develop a small 25-acre farm in Nightingale Grove in St Catherine in 2002 with two young heifers, which increased to four by the end of the first year. This property is located approximately 200 yards north of the Jamaica Broilers processing plant on the eastern boundary.

By Christmas 2005, the herd had grown to 16. It was my intention to develop a small pilot operation producing fresh creams and cottage cheese for the uptown market in St Andrew, to the extent that I visited a dairy operation in Devon, Cornwall, England to see how the processing was done.

The week before Christmas, three of the cows were stolen. My caretaker who lived on the property reported the matter to the Old Harbour Police Station, the nearest one to us, and we are still waiting for the police to turn up.

The run-up to the week before Easter 2006, a truck in the early hours of one morning hit down the steel entrance gate of the property and also the pen gate, hauled out and butchered five more cows, making no attempt to work in silence. They also tried smashing the door of the caretaker's house, forcing him to bolt through a back window and hide in the bushes. They would, without doubt, have butchered him, too.

The caretaker called the Old Harbour police, telling them what was taking place and asking them to come urgently and catch the dirty rats red-handed, but their reply was that he could come to the station at 7 a.m. and make a report. Having learnt of the attack, I immediately contacted a very well-known high-ranking police superintendent, who told me right then and there that he sympathised with my dilemma, but that the police had neither the manpower or logistics to deal with cow t'ief, as they were busy dealing with homicides.

 

the cover of darkness

 

I then went to the great expense of building a 10-foot wall on the road boundary with a heavy steel gate. We had a lull till about 2009 when the herd grew back about 16, but then it started all over again, the last straw being September 2013, when under the cover of darkness, another large truck broke through the gate, stole and butchered the remaining 13 head of cattle, with my caretaker again running for his life and calling the police and getting the same response as in 2006.

The property is now shut down and is up for sale. The only thing that I get is harassment from the Government for property taxes on something that earns no income. My caretaker is also out of a job, but lives in the house without light and water.

Jamaica, the country that I love, is a disaster and a failed state for those of us who wish to make an honest, productive living because of those we have entrusted with running our country's affair practically since 1972.

GERRY FOSTER

gerryfoster@flowja.com

Stony Hill, Kingston 9