by Neville Clarke
Thieves are targeting livestock that won prizes at Agrofest thereby depriving the country of good animal genetics.
Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society, James Paul, made this disclosure earlier today during a Press briefing at the Grotto, Beckles Road,St. Michael.
Paul said: “We have noticed over the last few months since holding Agrofest that it seems as if there is a tendency among thieves to actually target a lot of the persons who won prizes at Agrofest. It has gotten to the point where a lot of the prize animals in the different categories and different species that people won prizes with, thieves are targeting those persons in order to steal their animals. This is a very peculiar development. After investing so much in our animal genetics to bring the animals to the stage at which we have gotten them, that people would seek now to deprive the country of that valuable research and resource by actually stealing them. It is really a source of frustration to a lot of our livestock producers because it does not take a year to produce that kind of genetics. A lot of these genetics are produced over a period of time, over different permutations in terms of breeding. It is unfortunate that we have a situation where this practice is going on.
“Now it is not only in relation to livestock that this practice is taking place. Over the weekend we had a situation in St. Lucy where a farmer who had a field of peppers and these peppers were actually reaped by an individual over the weekend. What is alarming about that field is the fact that the farmer had recently sprayed the peppers on Friday. Now you are supposed to allow a sufficient period of withdrawal for plants sprayed, this has not happened and therefore we have going onto the market products that are contaminated and can be injurious to people,” Paul added.
He advised consumers that over the next few weeks they should exercise caution over the source of the peppers they purchase. He further suggested that they should ask questions.
Paul cited another case where a farmer reported that last week corn was stolen from his property.
“These situations are happening on a weekly basis and I really believe that we need to come to some form of accommodation in this country as to how we are going to deal with this problem of crop theft. I note we have had in the past different supermarkets who were in the forefront suggesting methods of dealing with the problem. I would like to encourage the farmers themselves to embrace some of these methods. I believe that we should use some form of official receipt that persons who have vegetables for sale should be asked to produce or to have some form of verification. Under the circumstance I think this might be the way to go because it is really posing a disincentive to farmers,” Paul said.
He expressed concern that praedial larceny may have a “damper” on farmers’ participation in Agrofest next year.