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Ministry, JAS declare war on praedial larcenists

Published:Tuesday | January 8, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer

Western Bureau:

The Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) and the Ministry of Agriculture are getting ready to unleash a war on praedial larcenists who inflicted $5 billion in losses on farmers across the island last year.

President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society, Senator Norman Grant said the JAS would be hunkering down at its retreat at the Medallion Hall Hotel tomorrow to put the finishing touches on a major public-relations campaign it has crafted to deal with praedial larceny and other issues affecting the lucrative agricultural sector.

"The Jamaica Agricultural Society in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture is serious about tackling the issues caused by praedial larceny on the sector. We are going to be rolling out a massive public-relations campaign and we have engaged the police, the judiciary and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority to be a major part of this thrust."

Grant said praedial larceny has become organised crime and condemned the recent theft of 32 cows from a farmer in St James.

Seize asset

"We think also, and the law provides for it, we need to see more praedial larceny cases treated as organised crime and come under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Seize those assets, dispose of those assets and use the proceeds to help fund the compensation plan for the farmers," he said.

The JAS president said recent cases of praedial larceny bring into sharp focus the need to compensate farmers when they face heavy losses.

"We will certainly be putting forward to Government a compensation plan for the farmers and further to that, we want to establish a farm-thief registry," he said. "Once they are caught, we would publish their pictures in the community, in the newspapers and the electronic media so to that extent we want to engage the media to assist us in this battle which we must win."