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Emphasis on food security has perhaps never been so great. Yet the country still imports a colossal 50 million pounds of meat each year, according to figures released by Cabinet this morning.

One long-standing problem preventing many livestock farmers expanding is widespread theft of their animals.

Praedial larceny continues to decimate many farmers’ livelihoods and shatter the nation’s hopes of self-sufficiency.

Livestock farmer Byron Lee told Observer he had suffered catastrophic losses this year.

“It’s one of the worst we’ve seen. I don’t know if it is because people aren’t working but people just steal the animals left, right and centre. My animals have gone down to about half since Covid – goats and sheep. There was one time I had about 1,200 animals; now if I have 500 I have plenty. 

“It’s difficult for me because right now my wife isn’t working and she opened a restaurant where we do goat burgers, sheep burgers, sheep pasta but now I don’t have the animals to support her like that,” Lee explained. 

He revealed that repeated thefts of his animals had cost him more than $200,000.

The issue came under discussion by Cabinet this week when five agriculture officials joined ministers to talk about strengthening both crops and animal husbandry.

Lee said anything the government could do to help would be appreciated.

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