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JM | Sep 18, 2022

Pearnel Charles Jr | Praedial larceny a nuisance that must be eradicated

/ Our Today

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Pearnel Charles Jr.

As Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, I strongly condemn praedial larceny in any form.

Recently there has been an increased incidence of reports of larceny of cattle in the Kensington, Alexandria area of Clarendon.

The scourge of praedial larceny is a nuisance that must be eradicated from our society. This threat to the livelihood of our hard-working farmers and the agriculture sector will not be tolerated and we will deploy all the available resources in our arsenal in the fight against this menace. 

I am extremely concerned that this plague on the agriculture sector counters the gains of the ministry as we move to establish greater food safety and security. I wish to take this opportunity to thank and commend the Jamaica Constabulary Force in moving swiftly and skilfully to recover the cows.

We are grateful for your urgency in rectifying this matter.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries remains bullish on cauterising this scourge which hinders the imminent growth in this subsector and, as of September 1, 2022, we have enforced the implementation of the Animals (Diseases and Importation) (Marking of Bovine Animals) Regulations, 2015. This requires all cattle to be identified with ear tags and corresponding passports.

Praedial larceny is one of the greatest deterrents to increased investments in agricultural production and the development of rural communities. It not only hampers the growth and expansion of legal production and productivity in the agriculture and fisheries sector but encourages increased imports to fill the gaps, therefore we remain resolute in our fight to rid Jamaica of the scourge of praedial larceny.

Charles Jr (right) strokes the head of a cow during the livestock parade and presentation of awards during the 68th Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show at Denbigh Showground in Clarendon. (Photo: JIS)

This crime continues to have devastating effects on the agricultural sector for several years, and it is now time as a country, we collectively accelerate our efforts and become more bullish on eradicating this problem. To mitigate against this scourge, one of the strategies which has been deployed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is the National Animal Identification and Traceability System (NAITS).

The NAITS system requires all cattle to be identified with ear tags and corresponding passports. The system facilities the identification of stolen cattle in the absence of eyewitnesses. NAITS was implemented in 2015 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries through the Veterinary Services Division (VSD) with a view to enhance traceability of animals and products of animal origin to safeguard animal health.

The tagging system is supported by the Genome Sequencer which will facilitate cattle identification once the cattle has been tagged and sampled – whether the animal has been slaughtered or not. 

This way, beef carcasses can still be identified once the owners comply with the tagging requirement and have the DNA of their cattle registered. Ultimately this combination of tagging and technology will establish a bank for DNA identification. This will vastly enhance the collaborative efforts of the Ministry and the Jamaica Constabulary Forces against praedial larceny.

Charles Jr (right) examines a pineapple sucker alongside JP Farms Pineapple Crop Manager Tariq Kelly.

Further, this system will aid in strengthening food safety and security, by enhancing animal disease surveillance and supporting the development of a modern livestock sector, aligned with international standards. 

Stakeholders especially our farmers should be reminded that it is illegal to buy, sell or slaughter cattle that are not affixed with the NAITS ear tags. 

Persons involved in cattle rearing, including butchers, transporters of cattle, and cattle owners who are found in breach of the NAITS 2015 Regulations on the marking of bovine animals will be subject to fines or imprisonment.

NAITS is critical to the holistic development and modernisation of the Jamaican Livestock industry. As we move to eliminate the menace of praedial larceny in the sector, I am once again urging all cattle farmers to have their cattle tagged. 

The tagging facility is being provided to our farmers across Jamaica free of cost. Additionally, as of next week we will be having a direct intervention in the affected area, providing free tagging of animals for the cattle farmers and I will personally be on location to expedite this process. 

  • Pearnel Charles Jr, Jamaica’s minister of agriculture and fisheries


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