Thieves snatch $2 million of livestock in one night
A St Catherine farmer says that he is thinking about quitting farming after thieves raided his farm on Sunday and stole 27 goats and four of his sheep.
Malica Reid, 45, said that thieves also stole eight bulls from him last September. Another farmer, who operates on the same compound, reportedly lost 50 pigs on Sunday. Reid said that this latest setback, estimated to be more than $2 million, has put a significant dent in their pockets. Reid, who also plants sweet pepper and okra, cut a dejected figure on Wednesday when THE STAR visited his five-acre farm which he leases from the Sugar Company Jamaica.
"I don't know what to think, I don't even know if I will recover. I have had thoughts of getting rid of the goats and try something else. It is very heartbreaking. You have to work long hours, doing a whole lot of work, the sun is not forgiving and then what happened? You have to wait two,three years for a ram goat to mature before he is able to give you back any money and then 'bam'. I am really thinking about leaving this business," he said.
Reid, who is currently reading for a doctorate in education at Delaware State University in the US, also expressed disappointment with the police, as he feels that his misfortune could have been prevented.
"The location is sort of one way in, one way out. So I don't think it is beyond the police, especially the praedial larceny unit, to randomly patrol these areas because then it would have the effect on people to say that 'this is an area the police frequent and so I won't have that amount of time'," he said. Reid said he believes the thieves transported the animals in a Hiace bus early Sunday morning when no one was around. Unfortunately, this was the weekend when a private security guard he hires was off duty. Reid told THE STAR that his journey into farming started 12 years ago after he got suspended from the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
"Being suspended from my job, I needed something to do. My dad at the time had two pigs and suggested I try that. I took his pigs and took over his farming. I then rented somewhere and then the Sugar Company of Jamaica was good to me and allowed me to lease this piece of land," he said. He admitted that he has developed a love for animals and farming but cannot foresee himself enduring further incidents like the one on Sunday.
"I can't continue to suffer like this. People think that animal husbandry is an easy business. But when you have to do so much work before you can earn back your money and people just come and steal it like that is heartbreaking. This is why I don't buy goat meat a road because I know what farmers have to go through and I don't know if I am buying from a retailer who got his product illegally," he said. Up to press time THE STAR was unable to get a comment from the police as Senior Superintendent Christopher Phillips, who commands the St Catherine South Police Division, said he could not speak extensively on the matter.
Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Pearnel Charles Jr, said that his ministry will double efforts to stamp out the scourge of praedial larceny that continues to hamper "the growth and expansion of legal production and productivity" in the agricultural and fisheries sector. Charles Jr, speaking in the Sectoral Debate in Gordon House on Tuesday, disclosed that the ministry has already opened dialogue to amend the Proceeds of Crime Act to directly tackle and recover proceeds from praedial larceny from offenders and other perpetrators.