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Rarotonga grower raises concerns about produce theft

Thursday 18 April 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Crime, National

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Rarotonga grower raises concerns about produce theft
Danny Mataroa pruning passionfruit plant at his Tupapa farm. He has raised concerns about what can be done to those caught stealing produce from other people’s farms. FILE PICTURE/20081620/ 20081621

A Rarotonga grower has raised concerns about what can be done to those caught stealing produce from other people’s farms.

Te Tango Enua growers’ association president, Danny Mataroa, says this is an ongoing issue.

Mataroa claims that stolen produce is being sold to hotels, and farmers are angry and questioning how the issue can be tackled.

Lemons are the most commonly stolen product.

Police spokesperson Trevor Pitt says that while no recent thefts of lemons have been reported, produce theft does occur occasionally.

He says other produce such as coconuts are also sometimes reported stolen.

Pitt says it is difficult to monitor plantations as they tend to be scattered and secluded.

“People just need to be mindful about strangers peddling produce around the homes. Only trust people you know.”

Mataroa has offered a stern warning to potential thieves: “Don’t let me catch you on my farm.”

He adds that taro, watermelons, and even flowers are being stolen, emphasising that most targeted produce comes from hardworking female farmers.

Mataroa describes how some farmers resort to building temporary structures around their watermelon crops to deter theft during harvest.

“These are farmers’ hard work, physical work put into it. Taros are pulled out, watermelons picked, it’s terrible, and some of these farmers are mamas.”

He raised a critical question: “What should be done if those caught by farmers are young children or even adults? What measures can farmers take, and how?”