Sun | Sep 23, 2018

One man against the thieves

Published:Saturday | March 28, 2015 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju
Farmer Michael Matthews laments the death of his dog which he claims was poisoned by thieves targeting his farm in Heartease, St Thomas. He shows the chain which was used to leash the last of seven animals which was poisoned the night before.

ALBION, St Thomas:

"I HAVE to talk to someone," the man pleaded, bringing his bicycle to a stop on the passenger side of the marked Gleaner vehicle parked at East Albion, St Thomas, recently. "I see the vehicle and I want to talk to you because I don't know what else to do," he continued.

It turns out that Michael Matthews, a farmer from Heartease, in the parish, had lost the last of seven dogs to thieves who poisoned the animal the night before. Angry, frustrated and dejected, he had in hand the chain that had been used to control the animal.

"One of the time, me just feel like seh me coulda get some power saw and cut down the tree them and burn some coal because it nuh make sense," the farmer vented. He was referring to the more than 30 East Indian and Julie mango trees in the orchard he had painstakingly developed over more than 10 years.

"I get this place with a lot of 'hairy' mangoes, so what I do is cut them out and engraft them in Julie and East Indian. I plant other crops with it like soursop, breadfruit and coconut, but I just cant benefit none at all," he explained.

Even though there is theft of other crops throughout the year, the thieves, who seem to be very organised, make a concerted effort to target farmers when mangoes are in season. And with Julie retailing at about $50 each and East Indian between $100 and $150, it is a lucrative crop,

"Nuh care how the trees them laden with mangoes, inna no time it just disappear. The thieves them come by night and just pick off the mangoes. I cannot get nuh mango. Each time the crop is on, is pure thieves and me can't get nutten at all, nutten. Also, whenever there is mango on the tree, I can't keep any dogs," Matthews disclosed.


veteran farmer


After years of reporting the matter to the Yallahs Police Station, who have failed to catch even one of the thieves plaguing his farm, the veteran farmer sees no sense in going through this futile exercise.

"Me nuh get nuh result. Them only write it up, give me a receipt and that's it. So it nuh make no sense me make no more noise because each time you make noise, it ongle fall on deaf ears," he argued.

However, when The Gleaner checked with the Yallahs Police Station, we were told that even though it does not have a specialised team to deal with farm theft, farmers are urged to report all incidents, which are treated as serious criminal matters.

The frustrated Heartease resident believes farmers should complement the work of the police by uniting in a community effort to stop the criminals who are very organised and so continue to reap the benefits of their hard work.

"Them haffi equip the farmers with some form of tool that we can defend it, or help us with some form of security because I have seven dogs fi help me pon the farm, and right now, the last one die yesterday. Them poison them out. I'm trying, trying so hard, and if me raise the fence, inna no time the fence is down because them just keep walking on the fence. The new wire, inna no time them take it off cause mango is very valuable ... I just can't benefit none at all."