KINGSTON – FAO technical advisor to the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Reuben Robertson argues that the theft of agricultural produce can have a deleterious impact on the regional economy and the health of its citizens.
Robertson says losses as a result of praedial larceny range from US$2.3 million in St Vincent and the Grenadines to US$300 million in Belize.
He says while countries have passed legislation, there is little enforcement.
He adds that in countries like Jamaica there are lessons learnt from some of the steps taken in enforcing legislation, including public awareness, ensuring that farmers are registered, and the putting in place rural constables to police the hotspots.
However, Robertson says praedial larceny is a problem in need of urgent attention as in some cases, it has resulted in banks foreclosing on farmers who were unable to repay loans.
Robertson also says praedial larceny has resulted in a number of poor people’s children dropping out of school because the animals and crops they had to sell to buy uniforms were stolen.
Another possible negative outcome of praedial theft highlighted by Robertson is that persons may be poisoned or become infected when they buy meat or produce not intended or ready for human consumption.
He is suggesting insurance or a fund that can remit some level of contribution to the farmer in instances of praedial larceny.