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Prevention of theft

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The Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Agriculture Produce and Livestock (the Prevention of Theft) Act, No. 49 of 2007, was signed by the Governor General on the 28th December, 2007. Many persons would be happy to see a change in the sad state of affairs with respect to agricultural produce and livestock in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I would for two weeks bring to your attention information on the Act.{{more}}

Farmers’/ owners’ grief

Some farmers have given up hope and have refused to plant crops which could be stolen easily. In some cases, farmers have abandoned their plots because of human predators. The thieves are especially attracted to ground provision such as tannias, dasheen and sweet potatoes. Fruit trees everywhere have been constantly ravished to the consternation of their owners. Stealing of produce not only occurs in the countryside but in the small plots in residential areas. I watched an old man toil for long hours on his plot planting cucumber, pumpkin, corn and sweet cassava. When the time came for him to reap the crops, it was someone else who reaped them. It was a heart rending situation. He vowed not to plant any more crops, and today the plot is overgrown and unattended. I am certain you have heard about similar occurrences in this country. It cannot be fair for persons who own land and labour to live at the mercy of thieves.

According to the Act, “agricultural produce’ includes any root crops, plants, grasses, pulses, vegetable, cereals, fruit and fibers and livestock includes any farm animal or poultry or the carcass, head, skin or any other part or product thereof.

Registration of Sellers

One of the main features of the Act is the provision that it makes for the registration of sellers of agricultural produce and livestock. In this way it makes it difficult for thieves to dispose of their ill gotten gains. Accordingly, any person who has to sell agricultural produce or livestock of the value of fifty dollars ($50.00) or more or of the weight of five kilogram or more must be registered. The application must be made to the Minister of Agriculture who would cause a certificate to be issued. The seller is required to pay a fee when application is made. This would be given when regulations are ready.

Sellers’ Certificate

The certificate would be valid for a period of five years and must be renewed on expiration. The registration number, date of issue and expiry date must be shown on the certificate. The certificate or a duplicate must be displayed at the place where agricultural produce or livestock is sold or must be in the possession of the seller when challenged by a constable. If he does not have it in his possession he/she could be asked to produce it within forty-eight hours at a specified police station.

Failure to comply

If any seller fails to produce the certificate, he or she “commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of five hundred dollars or to imprisonment for three months or to both such fine and imprisonment.”

Time of Transaction

Those persons who obtain certificates under the Act are restricted to purchasing or selling the stipulated items between the hours of 5.00a.m and 7.00p.m. Any person who contravenes the law by selling outside the stipulated time commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of five hundred dollars or imprisonment of three months or to both.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: exploringthelaw@yahoo.com




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