Oct 9, 2008
Farmer loses over $30 000 in crops
BARBADOS Oct. 9, 2008. Nation News - Bridgetown, St. Michael, Barbados by Carlos Atwell Farmer Patrick Bethell knows this all too well as he is counting the loss of his entire one-acre field of four-month-old cassava plants. ...
While the farmers's away, the thieves will play. Farmer Patrick Bethell knows this all too well as he is counting the loss of his entire one-acre field of four-month-old cassava plants.
The story began when Bethell, who manages Friendship Estate in St Michael, reported thieves had made off with 58 plants over the course of four days. The situation worsened yesterday when he called the media to highlight another 56 plants uprooted.
"In one and a half weeks, I have lost around $1 800. They stole 19 plants last night [Monday] and 37 this morning [Tuesday]," he said. When the first cassava plants were stolen, Bethell said he would destroy them if the larceny continued and he carried out his threat yesterday – he dug up the rest of the field, which he said was worth more than $30 000.
"It hurts me to have to destroy a crop just to make a point but I feel raped and violated and I have decided the time for talk is over. "The gloves have to come off or you can forget about agriculture in Barbados. I think it is misleading to tell the 4-H clubs to grow food just so they can be stolen and I have met many people who no longer farm because of thieves," he said.
Bethell, 62, said he was now forced to cut his staff working hours to four days instead of five and was even contemplating giving up farming altogether. "We are planting cassava freely and willingly as citizens of Barbados and this is what is happening. Well, I am done with that!" he said.
Independent senators John Hutson and Dr Frances Chandler were present and offered support. Hutson said he too had to give up farming certain crops due to praedial larceny. "This is a very serious situation and I would like to see stiffer penalties imposed. If you were to go and steal ink, you would have a hefty fine or time in jail but if you steal crops, you get a holiday," he said.
Chandler, an agronomist, said the authorities were treating agriculture as a "bottom of the barrel" activity. "It is ironic that there is now a global food shortage and as such we are being asked to plant food but yet agriculture is considered the bottom of the heap," she said, adding the authorities would react faster if a hotel was burglarised. Chandler also chastised international organisations which she said were good at hosting workshops but would not give funds to monitor the market or assist the police. "What are their tangible effects? If they can't offer help with this issue, they are a waste of time," she said. (CA)