Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, has warned praedial thieves that new and stronger anti-praedial larceny measures will be revealed when he makes his presentation in the Budget Debate, on April 23.
Addressing the opening ceremony at the Montpelier Agricultural and Industrial Show, in St. James, on April 21, the Minister said the weight of the police and technology will be combined to impact the operations of praedial larcenists who are retarding growth in the agricultural sector.
“In my budget presentation I am going to outline what we are planning to do with the two-foot puss dem (praedial thieves), who continue to raid our farmers (preventing) them from producing. We have a plan for them, working in tandem with the Jamaica Constabulary Force. We intend to put a dent in praedial larceny,” Mr. Clarke emphasised.
The Minister pointed out that the Commissioner of Police has promised that a unit will be put in place specifically to deal with praedial thieves, and “we will be using technology at its highest to make sure that we catch those people who have decided to reap where they have not sown.”
Underscoring the value of agriculture as a critical component in Jamaica’s economy, Mr. Clarke said the sector must be operated as a business.
“It is imperative therefore that we match what we produce to meet market demands. We have been producing enough to supply the local markets, and our efforts are now targeted to exports,” the Minister noted.
Mr. Clarke said the Ministry is implementing a number of initiatives to push the sector, including the expansion of the small ruminant industry. He pointed out that the Livestock Unit at Bodles, St. Catherine, has embarked on a four-year project to improve the genetics of goats and sheep for breeding, thereby increasing the small ruminant stock.
The Minister reiterated that at the end of the first quarter of calendar 2014, the sector grew by 18 per cent.
Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for the area, Hon. Derrick Kellier, said agriculture has the potential to break the back of unemployment and lift Jamaica out of the current economic quagmire.
He called on farmers to rise above being the producers of samples to real production, and from feeding the nation to being exporters.
The Minister congratulated the St. James Associated Branch Societies (ABS) of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) for successfully staging the show annually.
He commended the President, Mayor Glendon Harris and his team for attracting high quality sponsors to assist in putting on the show.
By Sharon Earle