New legislation is coming to deal with praedial larceny.
This disclosure has come from Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who said Government was hard at work on a new piece of legislation to deal with that recurring problem.
He made the comments over the weekend, while delivering the feature address at the Barbados Agricultural Society???s Annual General Assembly at the Radisson Aquatica Resort Barbados.
Mr. Stuart said: ???It [The legislation] has been making the rounds between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Chief Parliamentary Counsel???s Office to make sure that every possible loophole is identified and closed and that crop thieves and those who receive what they have stolen are made accountable for their deeds. Penalties will be stiffened, but as I have always said, before you get to penalties, you have to find the persons who have perpetrated the offence???
???You have to be able to apprehend the perpetrators of crop theft and therefore the legislation is targeting that, making people more accountable for what they have, making them say how they came by it, making them prove that they produced it and those mechanisms are being put in place so that the farming community can feel greater confidence in what they are doing and in the efforts that they are making to help themselves and to create an environment of food security here in Barbados.???
In his hour-long address, the Prime Minister noted that up to 1960, agriculture was still contributing the largest percentage to this country???s gross domestic product and it was also the largest foreign exchange earner.
???All of that has changed now and we now have a country in which agriculture???s contribution to the foreign exchange profile of Barbados is very, very modest and its contribution to the gross domestic product I believe is now around three or four per cent???.
???But you cannot judge the importance of agriculture by those measurements because issues of human survival and food security rank far above issues of gross domestic product and foreign exchange,??? he remarked.
According to him, a vibrant agriculture sector is at the heart of the development of developed countries, and they jealously guard it, doing whatever they deemed necessary to protect it.
Mr. Stuart lamented that many people did not see the pursuit of an agricultural career as a preferred option. ???We still have people who believe that [agriculture] is somebody else???s work, not theirs and that other sectors and other types of activities should get preference in respect of what resources Government has to allocate, because going back to the land ??? is to take steps back into history which we want to forget.
???Because of that perception, we have had an unbalanced society here in Barbados. We have an unbalanced society here in the Caribbean because agriculture lost its rightful place in the consciousness of our people and a responsibility now rests on our shoulders to restore agriculture to that state of acceptability and respectability which it rightfully and truly deserves,??? he emphasised.
The Prime Minister said he was heartened by the fact that a number of young people in Barbados, especially women, were interested in agriculture.??He commended the BAS for its significant contribution to the development of agriculture, and assured them of Government???s continued support in its efforts to sensitise people to the importance of the sector.