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Get serious!

The audience at this morning’s public forum.

The audience at this morning’s public forum.

Farmers are calling for the implementation of all necessary measures to protect their operations against praedial larceny.

Speaking before a standing-room-only audience this morning at a public forum hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, many said they were fed up with what they described as Government’s lack of seriousness in dealing with the issues affecting them and the agriculture sector generally.

One long-time farmer, Vincent Layne, asked that new legislation be established to protect them from prosecution when they engaged in measures to protect their livelihood. One measure he sited was protection if an individual who trespassed on their property with the sole purpose of committing a crime was killed or harm in the process.

“We need to stop with all this fancy talk and deal with the issue…,” he said. “The issue is that we want legislation so that we can even get guns too. We got white little children in this country walking ’bout with guns down pun their foot strap on and black people we cannot get firearms.

“It hurts when you borrow money … and theft happens, so you have to find a way and means to protect yourself. There must be some law if a farmer kill a man on his place. I am supposed to be a bone fide Holy Ghost Christian, if I kill a man on the farm I serve the same God that give David six rocks to kill Goliath.

“I am not saying that we should go about killing people …, but I am saying†if you catch a man on the farm, you don’t ask him what he is doing… You the people in the Ministry of Agriculture need to talk to a few who are serious to talk to the law makers to say what we want,” he added.

Christopher McCollin, who had been in farming for more than 40 years, also complained about all the talk and the lack of action on the Government’s part.

He said he was a director and member of many agricultural boards and committees so what was being said was said previously for more than 30 or 40 years and he was satisfied that conditions for the farmers could not improve until Government demonstrated its seriousness instead of just talking about it.

However, the Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation, Fay Best, told the farmers there was not much that Government could do, but advised that farmers themselves should unite to improve their own conditions.

“I am not a farmer and there is only so much I can do or the ministry can do, the farmers need to come together. The police have said it, the ministry has said it… We want to provide a forum for you to do that. We want to look at the different issues and determined how best they can be addressed,” she said.

“There are plans and it would mean that all the talk would have to stop, people would have to stop venting and people would have to put their nose to the window, open the window and do something and stop calling on Government to make a solution when they can help. I can make all of the suggestions in the world but you have to contribute.

“I have a team that needs some support, it needs more people, more resources… There are solutions, we have developed some ideas that we want to move forward with in terms of how praedial larceny situation can be helped. We have been developing a numbers of plans that will address most of these concerns but I work from an organisation that is a statutory corporation,” said Best.

The hundreds of who attended today’s meeting voiced their concerns about issues that included praedial larceny, the enforcement of existing praedial larceny laws, monkeys and dogs raiding of crop, animal theft and water problems. Barbados newest body to represent the farmers, The Farmers’ Association of Barbados, was also launched. (KC)†††

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