VIDEO: Kellits Farmers To Face Court After Being Charged In Lluidas ValeApril 1, 2022
A group of farmers from communities in and around Kellits in Clarendon is fuming after police stopped the truck on which they were traveling and charged five of them with failure to produce agricultural receipts.
They were stopped shortly after they crossed the Clarendon border and entered a community known as Top Hill, located in the Lluidas Vale Division, St Catherine.
The farmers, who also double up as vendors, were taken to Shady Grove Police Station in Lluidas Vale where they were each processed, charged, and offered bail in the sum of $50,000 to appear in court on May 11.
If found guilty, each of the vendor, under the law, shall be liable to a penalty no exceeding $250,000.
The requirement for receipt books falls under the Agricultural Produce Act, which was introduced nearly 20 years ago to help clamp down on praedial larceny.
One farmer, Georgia Davis, from McNie district in Clarendon, said the police requested that she furnish them with a farmers’ receipt book and an identification card that is usually issued by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).
Some of the farmers, including Davis, claimed that they were not aware that they too needed receipt books, considering that they were traveling with their own goods – as they have been doing without impediment for decades.
Davis said, now that she is in the know, she will take steps to acquire the necessary documents.
Derron Fullerton, a 40-year-old from Douglas Castle near the border of Clarendon and St Ann, told The Beacon that he was surprised by the police’s action, which he considers to be demotivating. “Wi nuh have no other alternative but farming fi wi livelihood fi mind wi family,” Fullerton noted, adding that he has been a farmer for more than half his life.
Some of the other farmers said the police’s action is oppressive.
In the meantime, one of the vendors who was traveling on the truck, said she was not charged because she has the necessary documents requested by the police. “I have a [farmers] group from up St Andrew,” she noted, adding that RADA should improve its sensitization programme to make more farmers aware of the requirements.
She further appealed: “They (the government and agriculture ministry) said they are promoting farming. They should get to the farmers just like how they come around politics time and have big meeting. Come in the areas and get the farmers dem into a group… They need to organize the people and RADA and JAS (Jamaica Agriculture Society) give the farmers dem ID. Some farmers live in some remote areas and some nuh 100 percent knowledgeable like everybody else.”
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