Prime Minister Cites Praedial Larceny And Farm Labour Support Among Priority Areas For The Ministry Of Agriculture

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PR Prime Minister, Dr. the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, has cited  praedial larceny and creating greater efficiency in the Farm Labour Support Programme as major issues to be addressed by the Ministry of Agriculture. 

Dr. Mitchell shared this view during his meeting Wednesday with the new Minister of  Agriculture, Lands and Forestry, Honourable Peter David and the senior staff within that  ministry as well as top officials in the Ministry of Labour. 

Despite recent initiatives taken by the Government, including the amendment of  legislation, praedial larceny continues to be a problem area for farmers. 

Dr. Mitchell said, “We need to come up with innovative ways to provide greater security  for our farmers. What we have done, has helped, but we need to do more to help farmers  safeguard their crops. They are frustrated with the constant pilfering of their produce and  it is not fair to them.” 

The Prime Minister further stated, “If we are encouraging young people to see agriculture  as a viable business to invest in, then we must seek innovative ways to ensure that other  persons do not reap the benefits of their hard labour. We must make greater use of  technology and demonstrate to farmers that we are committed to working closely with  them to curb this problem.” 

As the Government explores initiatives to spur economic activity as part of its recovery  strategy to combat the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Mitchell suggested that  areas like sea moss production can be used to generate business while at the same time,  create opportunities for young people. 

On the subject of Government’s Farm Labour Support Programme, Dr. Mitchell said,  while this is a useful initiative, it must be properly managed to ensure maximum benefit  for farmers. He said, “As we focus more on optimising expenditure, we must ensure that  initiatives such as these are operated efficiently and that they are having the desired 

impact on beneficiaries. We need to closely examine the programme and ensure that  Government’s investment is in fact benefitting farmers.” 

The Prime Minister has also reiterated the need for agricultural commodity boards to  better serve the need of farmers. He said, “These commodity boards have existed for  decades but under the present structure, farmers have no real benefit. We must liberalise  and effect real change in the lives of farmers. I repeat here today that Government is not  interested in controlling these boards, what we are seeking to do, is to ensure that they  empower our farmers. I speak from the heart, as the son of a farmer – if we do not effect  change, we would be doing a serious disservice to the farming community.” 

Dr. Mitchell expressed confidence that under the leadership of Honourable Peter David,  the Ministry of Agriculture will build on past successes and undertake initiatives that will  foster growth and development in the sector. 

He said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges but it has also unveiled  opportunities. One such opportunity is a renewed focus on agriculture – a lot of people  are going back to farming and there is evidence of this with the many roadside stalls with  agricultural produce, that are now visible across the country. I am confident that under  the leadership of Minister David, we can harness this revival and take the necessary steps  to ensure a full resurgence of this vital sector.”