Farmers and the authorities can take these simple steps to greatly reduce the present level of praedial larceny.
Farmers and the authorities working together and significantly reducing the current level of praedial larceny across our communities is testing but not impossible. There are some simple steps that we can take through legislation and its enforcement that can significantly reduce the level of this type of theft.
Our vegetable farmers play a very important role in our community and the wider society. They produce food for our consumption thus helping us to become more self sufficient in the area of food production.
They are hardworking and dedicated people. They make many sacrifices and often undergo much hardship and difficulty. Some of this hardship and difficulty is caused by vegetable thieves who often reap and make off with whole crops. The thieves sell these crops to unsuspecting buyers for easy profit. The farmer suffers an even greater loss.
We can not afford to lose our farmers through their giving up on agriculture because of this problem; we need to act now.
We need to legislate for and enforce the following approach to deal with this problem:
Registration of each of the following categories of individuals and businesses who are involved in vegetable retail and or wholesale and who:
- Produce to retail (Register of Producers who Retail)
- Produce to wholesale (Register of Producers who Wholesale)
- Buy to retail (Register of Buyers who Retail)
- Buy to wholesale (Register of Buyers who Wholesale)
Individuals and businesses can be registered under more than one category and at more than one address and location if necessary.
Registration of individuals and businesses must include registration of their address and location. The address and location of individuals and businesses must be inspected and verified before registration can be completed.
Registered individuals and businesses will be issued with documents of registration and identification cards. These documents and identification cards must be shown on demand to businesses, government officials and law enforcement officers.
It will be a criminal offence for anyone to even attempt to retail or wholesale vegetable produce without being registered and in possession of the relevant documents and identification card. It will also be a criminal offence for anyone to purchase vegetable produce from a retailer or a wholesaler who is not registered and in possession of the relevant documents and identification card.
The type and extent of punishment of offenders under this new legislation is left to the legislators and law courts.
This type of legislation and its enforcement are similar to the type of legislation and enforcement that serve to register and regulate drivers and motor vehicles.
It is necessary to create and share a database of registered individuals and businesses who are involved in producing, selling and buying vegetables. Prospective and unknown sellers can be checked against the database information. Information on known offenders can also be stored and accessed on this database.
Drones should be used to increase security of cultivated areas during both day and night. Drones can be fitted with lights and very powerful cameras for easy and accurate detection and video recording of people and other objects. This recorded information can then be passed on to the police.
Enacting into law and enforcing the suggestions offered above will assist our farmers in their attempt to be free of the menace of praedial larceny. Our farmers, our communities and our economy stand to benefit when this happens; let us therefore look forward to the day when the suggestions offered above are written into law and enforced to the benefit of all.
By Edward Fagan