A study aimed at combating praedial larceny in CARICOM has recommended that certain operators of corner shops and restaurants be brought into the system of identification.
"In this manner the farmer registration number on the documentation of the vendor must be transferred to the transaction document of the exporter or greengrocer or restaurateur. Street food people and operators of corner shops and restaurants who purchase agricultural produce above a prescribed limit must also be able to show evidence of purchase from a farmer or vendor," the study financed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.
"The farmer registration number must be a prerequisite for legitimacy of any transaction. It is therefore recommended that vendors be brought under the receipt book system and so should the higglers/hucksters and middlemen. Consideration will have to be given on how to treat vendors who sell imported fresh produce in the village markets."
Recommendation 12 echoes the call by Senator Norman Grant, president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society, for the establishment of a victim compensation fund with built-in safeguards against fraud/corruption.
With the recognition of its depleting effect on regional economies, the study recommends collaboration in the area of resource mobilisation for praedial larceny prevention on at least two levels. There are the broader strategic partnerships to be addressed such as how to manage piracy of marine resources and its impact on the livelihoods of fisherfolk, as well as the danger it sometimes poses to their lives and equipment.
The Bahamas loses an estimated US$16 million annually to piracy and illegal fishing in its waters, with Jamaica and Guyana also challenged to protect their marine resources from illegal fishing. In this regard, the kind of resource mobilisation might not necessarily mean financing but an agreement to share in the resources of other management and surveillance mechanisms in the region or internationally that can reduce the risks to the fisherfolk.
Cross-border business is also now evident in the praedial larceny chain for meats intertwined with other illegal activities. The illicit trade between criminals from Jamaica and Haiti comes readily to mind with those from the French-speaking nation providing guns to their English-speaking counterparts for well-need agricultural produce.
At the other level, the recommendation is for actions to access the traditional sources for technical co-operation in areas where a regional approach can be adopted. Such areas would include models for praedial-larceny prevention legislation, risk analysis and information dissemination and communication strategies.
Jamaica, through the office of the Praedial Larceny Prevention Coordinator, has begun implementation of what the study calls Community Strategy which requires close collaboration between the police and communities. Dubbed Farmers Watch, it has been in launched in two Clarendon districts with emphasis on public awareness about physical measures of prevention, responsible information sharing, vulnerabilities in praedial larceny and community policing.
Still, the challenges of preventing and reducing praedial larceny remain a major challenge for Jamaica and the entire region.