Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF), Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, has commended the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) for its initiative to decentralise the operations of the police in curtailing praedial larceny. The move to decentralise is expected to become effective with a soon-to-be-established Agricultural Produce Protection Division with Units located islandwide that will focus on agricultural produce theft and related offences.
Minister Hutchinson was speaking at a Praedial Larceny Prevention Workshop at the Medallion Hall in St. Andrew on December 12, 2018, which was facilitated by the Ministry and the JCF.
Noting that praedial larceny was the single greatest disincentive to investment in the agricultural sector, Minister Hutchinson made reference to reports of several cases of praedial larceny in the parish of Clarendon, including an instance in which theft forced some young investors to abandon their farm and migrate overseas.
“We believe it is only by eliminating or reducing praedial larceny and other farm thefts that increased investments will be generated to promote development in our rural areas, said Minister Hutchinson.
Among the proposals proffered by the Minister to address praedial larceny were that, in addition to the fines charged by the court, convicted praedial larcenists should be ordered to make restitution to farmers equal to the value of their loss, including interest, where applicable, as well as a revision of the receipt book to include cash and credit invoices, and a phone contact for the farmer.
“We have to look at traceability of everything coming from the farm,” said the minister who also recommended that inspectors should be employed to visit all end users and ascertain the source of products.
For his part, Deputy Commissioner of Police Clifford Blake disclosed that for the period January 1, 2017 to August 15, 2018, 870 goats were reported stolen in the parish of Clarendon.
Stating that goat stealing in Clarendon was synonymous to lottery scamming in St. James and was a threat to national security, DCP Blake noted that the new initiative was aimed at getting all police officers back in the fight against praedial larceny and urged them to give it the priority place it deserves.
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