The Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) has welcomed plans to introduce a new praedial larceny Bill by year end.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Fisheries & Water Resources Management Ellsworth Reid Wednesday announced the proposed measure, as Government seeks to crackdown on worrying crop theft.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY, BAS Chief Executive Officer James Paul said the legislation would assist “in terms of increasing penalties that would deter persons from praedial larceny”.
Paul, a Government backbencher, stressed that praedial larceny was still a huge problem for farmers.
“People steal crops, sheep, farm infants. People steal farm products as if it is no problem.
“Even the act of going in a cane field and cutting cane is stealing produce and people sometime are not aware, or pretend not to be aware, that it is stealing, but it is theft,” he explained.
“Anything that can be done to try [dissuade] people from engaging or reduce the instance of praedial larceny of course I will be in support of,” the BAS boss said.
Managing Director of Chicken Stop Deborah Gill also welcomed the proposed legislation as “a good thing to do”. She spoke of the challenges that farmers faced “when you plant an acre of land with sweet potatoes and then you can only reap a quarter of that acre”.
“You think that makes sense?” she asked.
Gill told Barbados TODAY: “People are going and sell that same produce cheap because they didn’t have to do any labour, so they are the person reaping all the benefits. So if that Act comes into place, I’d be very happy.”
Both Chicken Stop and Chickmount Foods have been victims of theft, and Operation Manager of Chickmount Trevor Gunby said he was eager to see the thieves brought before the law courts and pay for their crimes.
“I have had cases where they steal a whole truckload [of chicken]. They come at night and steal about 3,000 kilos,” he said.
Gunby added he was awaiting the planned measure with baited breath.
“This thing has been going on long. I’m happy yea, because I wouldn’t suffer so much,” he told Barbados TODAY.