Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Andrew Gittens, has described enforcement of the Protection of Agricultural Products and Livestock Act 2017 as critical in the fight against the scourge of the theft of crops and livestock.
He expressed the view while addressing attendees at a stakeholder consultation on the skills needs assessment for the sector, on behalf of Minister Dr. David Estwick, at the Savannah Hotel yesterday.
“Late last year, this legislation was passed in Parliament to ensure that farmers can reap what they plant, and that those who don’t plant can’t reap what they didn’t plant. I think what we need now is enforcement.
“Only this weekend I was passing down the highway and I saw a couple fellas with sugar cane. While I can’t say that they didn’t plant the cane, it was highly unlikely that they were cane producers and I think [enforcement] is one of the areas we need to work on,” Mr. Gittens stated.
He also reiterated that members of the public had a role to play in combatting the theft of crops and livestock, suggesting that they seek to purchase produce from reputable sellers at all times.
The objective of the Protection of Agricultural Products and Livestock Act 2017 is to make provision for the regulation of farmers and vendors; as well as the prevention and control of praedial larceny.
Under Section six (15), “a person who is in possession of agricultural products or livestock and fails to (a) produce a certificate, receipt, bill of lading as required by this Act; (b) give proof of ownership; or (c) satisfy a warden that he is in lawful possession of any agricultural products or livestock, is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $10,000 or imprisonment for five years or both”.
Farmers and vendors are also required to be registered with the Chief Agricultural Officer, as stated in Sections four and five. While Section six speaks to the documentation required when conducting transactions involving agricultural produce and livestock.