Although sympathising with farmers who have recently fallen victim to livestock thieves, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Indar Weir says statistics do not support claims by the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) that there is an increase in praedial larceny.
Last week, Omar Smart and his business partner Jason Roberts complained of losses of pigs, sheep, chickens and other stock worth more than $30 000. As recently as last week, the thieves struck twice in the space of a few days.
At the time, BAS Chief Executive Officer James Paul warned that a recent increase in animal theft was threatening the survival of the livestock industry.
While Weir promised to meet with the upset farmers in the near future, he rejected Paul’s assessment of the wider issues.
“Whilst we are working, things will still be happening, but I can’t speak to any upsurge in anything that has not been reported to me, certainly not by the BAS or the farmers directly,” Weir told Barbados TODAY in a recent interview.
“The truth is that I have not had any complaints about an increase in praedial larceny. Instead, I have been seeing many things in the press – a lot which has not been proven.”
In fact, the Agriculture Minister added that unsubstantiated claims have even extended beyond livestock theft.
“For instance, a lot of people are now doing vending and people have been asking where they have gotten their produce from, but I don’t think it is fair to attribute this to praedial larceny,” Weir said.
“While I do realise that we have a problem with praedial larceny, we must be equally cognisant of the fact that you can’t just go around accusing people and I don’t know that we can single out vendors,” he added.