Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Assault on farmers must end

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There are so many problems facing the Government and people of Barbados that one hardly knows where to begin.

The public is simply overwhelmed by the sheer scale and complexity of the economic morass and social problems that we face.

The continuing saga of the lawlessness that plagues the farming community is a prime example. For years we have seen reports of crop theft, cattle rustling and theft of farming supplies and equipment that seldom results in an arrest and conviction. In the few instances that these criminals are brought to book, they receive a slap on the wrist and told to go forth and sin no more.

Farming today is a capital and knowledge intensive business that can be highly productive when bringing the right skills and technologies to bear on the process. It is clear, however, that highly skilled individuals with the requisite farming, business and technological skills will not be attracted to farming if their lives and property are in constant danger and the fruits of their labour swept away at harvest time by criminals that operate with impunity.

What to do?

There is no doubt that legislation needs to improve to aid the law enforcement entities to effectively combat the scourge that plagues our farmers. That, as we all know, will take time.

More importantly there is a crying need for leadership and ownership of the problem that rightly belongs to the Minister of Agriculture. He needs to convene a ministerial committee that includes the Attorney General and the Minister of Finance to tackle the problem,

The committee should invite members of the legal profession, the judiciary, the police and security forces and the business community to discuss the problems and develop action plans that would be implemented by clearly identified individuals and agencies that would be held accountable for results.

A strong message needs to be sent that we will not tolerate the continuing assault on the farmers of Barbados and the damage it causes to our food security.

This should be the main project of the Ministry of Agriculture over the next several years. Do something.

– Phillip Goddard

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