By Tamoy Ashman
Having experienced predial larceny, the new Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Pearnel Charles Jr, says that the fight against the theft of agricultural products is one of his priorities.
Speaking at the Praedial Theft Prevention Unit Essay and Jingle Competition Awards Ceremony on Friday, January 21, Charles Jr outlined the strategies his ministry will adopt to address the issue.
Charles Jr said the government is preparing to amend the Agricultural Commodities Act to ensure efficient trade and movement of goods. He noted that the deployment of agricultural watch groups would be another strategy.
According to Charles Jr, Jamaican farmers lose an estimated $5 billion a year due to predial theft.
Charles Jr recalled someone stealing his goat when he was 14 and how unmotivated he was to continue farming. The Minister of Agriculture has said that he does not want this to happen to young and future farmers.
“Praedial theft is everyone’s business, young or old,” said Charles Jr. He encourages citizens not to support praedial theft but to report it.
The competition aims to raise awareness of predial theft and its impact on the Jamaican economy. It featured six winners, three from each category.
“What we’re doing today is getting our young people to use their minds to understand the impact of this and start finding solutions that are essential for our human health, food security and national development,” he said. said Charles Jr.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Pearnel Charles Jr (left) and Minister of State Franklin Witter (right) greet the winners, Dermanique Lee of Chetwood Elementary School and Kriston Ferguson of Elementary School and Norman Gardens secondary, winners of Praedial Concurrence Theft Prevention Unit Essay and Jingle. (Photo provided)
Dermanique Lee from Chetwood Memorial Primary School in St James was named the winner of the essay category. Second place went to Garcel James from Osbourne Store Primary and Junior High Clarendon, while third place went to Jordan Dallas from Jacks River Primary St Mary.
Kriston Ferguson from Norman Gardens Elementary School in Kingston was named the winner of the jingle contest. Second place recipient was Kahalia Savage from Mona High School, and third place recipient was Rihanna Simpson Papine High School St Andrew.
Winners in both categories received $10,000 cash, a Kingston Bookstore certificate worth $15,000, a Samsung A tablet, a garden tool kit and a trophy.
Second place winners received $7,500 in cash; a Kingston Bookstore gift certificate valued at $10,000; a gardening kit and a trophy. Third place winners received $5,000 cash; a Kingston Bookstore gift certificate valued at $5,000; a gardening kit and a trophy.
Thirty-one students from 18 schools participated in this year’s competition.