The Government has ramped up sensitisation around farm-safety procedures, in light of the increase in praedial larceny in recent weeks.
Kalecia Hall, coordinator in the Praedial Larceny Prevention Coordination Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture, told JIS News that the monthly sensitisation sessions are “dictated based on where the reports come from or farmers who contact their different RADA groups for the Praedial Larceny Prevention Unit to talk with community members or the farmers’ group”.
She added that when it comes to reporting praedial larceny, many farmers are afraid to do so and instead prefer to talk to other farmers about the issue.
Hall said once the farmers are told that the first step is to make a report to the police, they try to withdraw from doing so, because they may know who the perpetrators are. This may include their relatives.
This is why the ministry has been increasing public-education activities with a view to getting people more comfortable with the idea of reporting.
The ministry’s public-education efforts rely heavily on the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) to invite persons to a singular location for mass meetings or individual farmers’ groups.
“Up until April of this year, the statistics for praedial larceny matters reported stood at 10,072, and we know that is not correct. I am in constant dialogue with farmers, and I know last month the number of reported cases to the police is not representative of the true reality of what is going on,” Hall contended.
She added that praedial larceny has become an organised crime with gang involvement, especially with the stealing of large livestock.
Farmers are encouraged to go around their own farms, reach out to the police if they are not comfortable with security assessment, ensure proper fencing is in place, be mindful of the persons they employ or even get dogs to help with safeguarding.
Persons are also encouraged to register, buy, and use the receipt books sold by the JAS for the police to trace and have access to their transactions.
This will help to verify whether the items persons are transporting were obtained legitimately or if they were stolen.
“The Praedial Larceny Prevention Unit works closely with the Community, Safety and Security branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force that encourages farmers to establish a farm watch or set up a structure that works for them. Police officers are now clear of the many different legislation they can utilise to detect breaches and if caught with goods that are not accounted for, the perpetrators could be charged for unlawful possession,” Hall said.
For more information, farmers or the general public may reach out to the closest RADA parish office or
contact the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries 876-927-1731.