KINGSTON, Jamaica— Recently crowned National Farm Queen, Sutanya Ellington, says she plans to use her new platform to advocate for stronger penalties for the perpetrators of praedial larceny.
According to Ellington, the theft of agricultural products is a practice which not only serves as a deterrent for those considering agriculture as a career but also impacts food security and food safety.
Food safety, which was the topic of Ellington’s research paper that helped to catapult her into the competition’s top spot, highlighted the inadequacies of mechanisms used to trace agricultural products within the local food chain.
In an interview with OBSERVER ONLINE, Ellington expanded on the conclusions of her paper sharing that the inability to trace products within the local food chain made combatting praedial larceny that much more difficult and had an even more dangerous consequence of potentially exposing Jamaicans to unsafe foods.
“If an animal is sick or an animal is not well, and they steal that animal and sell it to other people, those people who are purchasing that animal will not know that the animal was sick. That could lead to food-borne illnesses. So, the two [concepts] are very connected,” Ellington explained.
The 22-year-old further shared that while there were measures in place to protect against praedial larceny and improve food safety more needed to be done in terms of enforcement of related laws.
“Measures are there and fines are there. But I think there could be more done to enforce these legislations and laws,” Ellington said.
In addition to enforcement, Ellington noted that as it relates to praedial larceny, the fines could be increased to better serve as a deterrent, noting that the current fines were not strong enough.
“The fines for praedial larceny are a little bit weak because persons know that the fines are pretty manageable,” Ellington said.
“If we enact stronger laws, which I would have heard being mentioned already. If that is done persons would be more afraid, all these persons who are targeting the farmers, they are going to pay more attention and think again before going on someone’s property,” added Ellington.
Ellington was crowned National Farm Queen at the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show beating out ten other contestants.
In addition to the crown, she copped awards for the categories of Best Technical Paper Written and Best Technical Paper Presentation.