Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, says the country’s Praedial Larceny Prevention Unit (PLPU) has been reaping success recently in curtailing acts of praedial larceny across the country.
“We saw over 80 per cent increase in arrests between 2019 and 2020. [Additionally] we saw a 114 per cent increase in overall operations,” Mr. Green outlined while addressing the launch of the National Small Ruminant Development Programme at the Hounslow Research Station in St. Elizabeth recently.
He attributed this increasing success to the PLPU’s partnership with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) that has led to several units being established across the different police divisions in the island.
“In fact, we have established seven of them (PLPUs) and we are seeing great returns,” the Minister stated.
Mr. Green, however, noted that more work needs to be done in the space, as praedial larceny remains a threat to farmers and is one of the glaring issues holding back the development of the small ruminant sector.
He said the Ministry will be taking steps to address this issue and continue the drive to bring perpetrators to justice.
“We are going to be amending our Agricultural Produce Act to ensure that the penalty reflects the crime. As it is now, it does not. Maximum fine of $250,000 can’t even buy back two goats. That penalty doesn’t reflect the crime and we are going to be moving up those fines to send a clear signal that this is unacceptable,” Mr. Green indicated.
“Additionally, we are going to be working with the JCF to reinstitute agricultural wardens. We need more boots on the ground quite frankly. We need to look at those areas where we have significant challenges and train persons to the level of district constables. We want wardens back out in the field so they can give some more human resource to work with,” he added.
In the meantime, Mr. Green is urging farmers to report incidents of praedial larceny that are now considered a major crime by the JCF.
“I know sometimes you get frustrated, but we can’t help unless you provide us with the information,” the Minister pointed out.