Minister promises crackdown on epidemic of ‘night farming’
A crackdown on thieves who raid farmers’ fields was promised by the home affairs minister.
Walter Roban, also the Deputy Premier, said he continued to hold talks with farmers about the increase in produce theft and security measures that have proved successful.
Mr Roban added: "Like any business, the theft of items they would otherwise sell significantly impacts the success of that enterprise.
“To put it into perspective, the theft of produce from farmers and the damage caused by the act is no different than a thief breaking into a brick and mortar store and stealing merchandise."
He said: "Furthermore, farming is extremely laborious, and despite involving a great deal of blood, sweat and tears, profit margins are quite narrow.
“Therefore, when persons steal for whatever reason, they take food from farmers and impact their livelihood.
“This behaviour is unacceptable and must come to an end.”
Mr Roban added that the ability to grow produce on the island was vital to food security.
He said: "The public will know that much of the produce we consume is imported.
“However, our island's food security and sustainability are highly dependent on local farmers supplementing what we eat.
“We cannot take for granted the importance of local farmers to our way of life.“
Mr Roban was speaking against a backdrop of major increases in “night farming” since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
But, despite the common name for theft from fields, raiders have targeted farmers during daylight hours as well.
Mr Roban said that the thefts had mostly affected commercial farmers and some had been forced to put up security cameras to cover their crops.
Mr Roban admitted that people were struggling financially and had found themselves out of work through no fault of their own.
He added: “To those individuals, if you have not done so already, I urge you to contact the Department of Financial Assistance as there is support available to families in need.
Mr Roban said that the Government wanted to expand the farming sector and was looking at new ways, including vertical farming, to increase production as part of an economic recovery plan.
He added: "The opportunity is there and we must encourage the adoption of these technologies, and attract those eager, industrious young Bermudians into the farming industry as a career opportunity."
Mr Roban met farming industry representatives Daniel Renaud, Roger Pacheco Jr, Carlos Amaral and Tom Wadson in January.
He said at the time that the Government was committed to working with the Bermuda Farming Association to tackle the theft problem.
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