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April 25, 2014
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Cattle tagging to curb praedial larceny

As the Government moves to intensify its anti-praedial larceny thrust, a national animal identification and traceability system, which entails tagging cattle, is to be rolled out by the second quarter of this year.

Making the announcement during his contribution to the 2014/15 Budget Debate in the House, on Wednesday, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Roger Clarke stressed that the most potent weapon against praedial larceny "is a foolproof-traceability system", which has the additional benefit of facilitating and enhancing trade in agriculture and food safety.

"Under this programme, every single head of cattle will be tagged, virtually issued a passport. The passport will contain critical information about the animal and will be mandatory for movement of the animal. Concomitant with this is the development of a DNA database of all tagged animals," he said, adding that the tags are currently being procured.

He noted that this 'exciting and game-changing' programme is part of a four-pronged approach to tackling praedial larceny, which was arrived at following consultations at a stakeholders' strategy workshop.

Mr Clarke said a praedial larceny unit is to be set up within the Ministry, noting that the necessary job descriptions have been formulated and dispatched to the Cabinet Office, so that these posts can be established and filled quickly.

The minister further noted that the Commissioner of Police is also putting in place a dedicated unit within the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), "to provide the concentrated focus required to deal with this matter".

"A key responsibility of the praedial-larceny coordinator in this ministry will be to work closely with the proposed operational unit in the JCF, as well as our Veterinary Services Division, the Ministry of Health and the Trade Board, to coordinate and accelerate compliance efforts, with special emphasis on end users," he said.

Further, coming out of the consultations, a comprehensive set of amendments to the Agricultural Produce Act and the Praedial Larceny Prevention Act, have been agreed on to directly place penalties for praedial larceny under this principal legislation, to simplify the procedures for licensing all actors along the food chain as well as to impose stiffer fines.

"The necessary drafting instructions are being finalised to be presented to Cabinet for approval," the minister said.

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