Senate supports fund for victims of praedial larceny
THE Senate has passed a resolution asking the Government to consider a victim compensation fund for farmers affected by praedial larceny.
The motion was tabled by Government Senator Norman Grant, who pointed out that farmers are not given any compensation for losses sustained as a result of the activities of praedial thieves. He said that the re-launch of the programme will ensure public-private sector cooperation by involving all stakeholders.
He suggested that the fund could be financed bringing praedial larceny under the Proceeds of Crime Act, enabling the seizure and disposal of assets and placing the proceeds into the compensation fund.
Senator Grant, who was recently re-elected president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), also recommended that a registry for praedial thieves be introduced, to have their names published in the communities.
He said that the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, through a coordinator, was collaborating with the JAS, parish councils, Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), police, farmers, private sector and the communities to effectively implement the Praedial Larceny Prevention Programme.
Praedial larceny has grown from petty theft to theft of large amounts of agricultural produce, including truckloads of bananas, coffee, entire fields of pineapples, the harvesting of fresh water fish ponds and the slaughter of livestock, he noted.
"The significance of the losses has become a disincentive to investment in agriculture and fishing and a danger to farmers, fisherfolk, aquaculturists, their employees and families," he stated.
"The move by the Government to relaunch the programme is a commendable one, and let me say that we must not stop again until we win that battle," Grant added.
The motion also commended the Government for the relaunch of the JAS Produce Receipt Book Programme and the review of the laws governing praedial larceny with a view to strengthening their enforcement.