Edmond Campbell, Senior Reporter
OPPOSITION SPOKESMAN on agriculture J.C. Hutchinson wants the current system for the issuing of receipts by farmers to purchasers to be tweaked allowing for invoices to be submitted as well.
In his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in Parliament last week, Hutchinson said Section 37 of the Agricultural Produce Act should be reviewed, particularly as it relates to the imposition of a fine of up to $250,000 if a farmer did not provide a receipt to a person who purchased items from him.
Hutchinson reasoned that the farmer, in most instances, did not get cash for his produce initially, but that the purchaser will pay the farmer after selling the goods.
He suggested that the farmer should have the option in law to issue either a receipt or an invoice to the purchaser, with a phone number for verification.
According to Hutchinson, he has heard of instances where the farmer issues receipts and the purchaser later claimed that payment was made.
He said under these circumstances the farmer had no way of proving that he was not compensated owing to the fact that he had issued a receipt.
"End users who are unable to provide the investigators with a receipt or invoice should be fined up to $1 milion," he added.
Hutchinson also questioned whether the present administration had abandoned the use of mobile technology to establish closed-user groups, with critical stakeholders such as the police and farmers.
Making recommendations for increased growth in the agricultural sector, Hutchinson said the Government should target the production of selected crops and livestock enterprises within specific areas, as well as the operation of a central marketing intelligence infrastructure.
He said this would result in self-sufficiency of crops such as onions, carrot, Irish potato, red kidney beans and in the area of livestock, pig, sheep and goat.
Hutchinson also wants the introduction of a fruit-collection programme at central points where processors could procure raw materials such as mango, guava, papaya, soursops, plums, apples and tamarinds.