October 4, 2013

Praedial Larceny again

Fri Oct 9, 2013

We carry on page 29, a story about how praedial larceny is negatively affecting the budding coconut oil manufacturing industry in Sandy Bay.

Apparently there is sufficient coconut raw material available to allow producers to expand their market outside of St Vincent and the Grenadines, but the thieves have been getting to the dried coconuts before the rightful owners can. Coconut oil is seeing a resurgence in popularity in St Vincent and the Grenadines and around the world, and this is an area in which our agro processors could do well, once they are able to produce quality oil, packaged attractively, to international standards.{{more}}

There is another agriculture story within our pages, on page 16, which speaks of the seal of approval given to Vincentian livestock farmers by Grenadian businessman Jude Jack, who said that Vincentian beef was the best he had experienced, based on the texture, taste and quality. This is Jack’s third trip this year, to St Vincent, to buy cattle, which is a definite boost to the economy and speaks volumes for our livestock industry. News of expanding markets for Vincentian livestock should be some measure of motivation to livestock farmers, who in recent years, have been demotivated because of the high level of losses they had been sustaining through praedial larceny.

The Agricultural Produce and Livestock (Prevention of Theft) Act was passed in 2007, but was not fully implemented until June 2010, when 20 rural constables were officially commissioned as part of a new division within the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force. The Act brought with it, the introduction of a number of important support systems, which it needs in order to work, such as the registration of farmers, vendors and exporters; the issuing of receipt books; an identification system for livestock; and the recruitment of rural constables.

The rural constables were deployed throughout several rural communities including the Marriaqua Valley, the Georgetown district, in Colonarie, Park Hill, South Union, Vermont, Chateaubelair, Sandy Bay and Biabou.

Still, despite all this, farmers continue to cry out because of the losses they are suffering at the hands of lazy individuals in our midst, who seem intent on living off the sweat of others.

Earlier this year, Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar spoke about the continuing problem and described those involved in the practice of praedial larceny as a “scourge on the land”, and said they deserve “harsh punishment”. He also said the issue is a discouragement to many farmers and that they were seeing the negative impact bearing down on the markets where we have seen increase in the price for small ruminants.

He said at the time, that a “unique strategy” is being put in place to apprehend those involved in the act, and that his ministry will stop at no cost in ensuring that praedial larceny is stamped out from the agriculture industry. He disclosed at the time that the ministry had drafted a document to send to the attorney general’s chambers, to beef up the Act of 2007. It is time that the “unique strategy” is rolled out, Mr Minister. All legal means should be taken to curb this practice. Our magistrates also need to make examples of those individuals found guilty of the crime of praedial larceny, if the activity is to be controlled.