Farmers shelling out thousands, make crop thieves pay!
Members of the farming community at the workshop.
With members of the farming community exploring drone technology as an option to enhance their security, MP James Paul wants judges to throw the book at crop thieves.
In the past, Paul, who is the Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agriculture Society, has called for harsher penalties for persons arrested and charged with crop theft, but most recently a man accused of the theft of 80 pounds of cassava got a $1 000 fine, and so he is repeating his appeal.
UAV Pilot, Drone Operator and Technical Director of Viral Media Inc., David Lewis told Loop News that at the most basic level a drone could cost a farmer USD $2 000, but if he or she is looking to capture footage, then flare technology which would need to be added to the drone could run upwards of USD $20 000.
Therefore, with these costs on top of the farmers’ regular expenses to plant and properly grow his produce or to healthily care for his livestock, Paul said that crop thieves getting a tap on the wrist is a slap in the face of these businesspersons.
Paul told Loop that it has a lot to do with the courts.
“I think that the magistrates and judges, the whole court system needs to be, to my mind, more responsive to the community.
“And it seems to my mind sometimes that you get the impression that the criminals have more rights in the courts of today than the person upon whom an injustice is inflicted upon. I think the courts certainly have to take into consideration that yes, they are there to uphold the law, not the lawbreakers, and that is sometimes one of the issues that we face.”
Therefore, he asserted that if there was greater appreciation of the investment and impact of crop theft, “if the justices and the magistrates can understand that in looking at the whole question of upholding the law, [that] if we continue to let people off with very lenient sentences, it means therefore then that the people have no reason to basically uphold that law.”
He was speaking on the sidelines of today’s ‘Using Drone Technology to Combat Praedial Larceny’ Workshop organised by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management and held at their Graeme Hall, Christ Church location.