Increase in production could be key to reducing theft

Antigua and Barbuda hasn’t yet found a way to plough into the massive problem of theft of farm produce, but general manager at Jamaica’s Christiana Potato Growers Co-operative, Alvin Murray feels he has the solution.

His novel suggestion is to raise more crops and animals.

“We need to produce more than we’re producing now, so the propensity for stealing would be less…. When we were producing bananas in volumes, we heard nothing about (anybody) stealing bananas. When we were producing sugarcane, we heard about nobody stealing sugar cane,” said Murray, who is one of the officials here for Caribbean Agriculture Week.

He conceded, however, that just bumping up production wouldn’t, by itself, solve the praedial larceny problem, but went on to outline gains that have been made in his native Jamaica.

“A lot has been done in terms of issuing farmers with receipt books and having checks on the road to the market, and if you are found without a receipt, then you are culpable. There’s a hotline that the police uses, and everybody can call that hotline, and it deals with praedial larceny specifically,” Murray said.

An investigation in Jamaica revealed that the main offenders were farmers stealing other people’s produce, and Murray said that another element is family members disputing over ownership of their outputs.

Authorities and farmers here have raised concern about people being poisoned, if they buy stolen food, whether they are aware or not that it was stolen.