These offences include possession of agricultural produce without a receipt, unlawful possession of property, butchering without a licence, and selling uninspected meat.
The Minister informed that some 116 persons have been prosecuted and 17 cases are still before the courts.
Minister Kellier, who was addressing a praedial larceny sensitisation seminar for members of the judiciary held at the Jewel Runaway Bay Resort in St. Ann on Saturday
(January 16), said that in addition to the arrests and convictions, millions of dollars of livestock and produce have been recovered.
“Over 190 stolen animals and19 boxes of bees have been recovered. The unit has also embarked on a public education campaign to engender awareness of the seriousness of praedial larceny and other farm theft,” he said.
The PLPU is housed at the Ministry, with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) having responsibility for operational activities.
Minister Kellier said the unit, established in March 2015, has been playing a key role in reducing the incidence of farm theft, which costs the sector approximately $5 billion annually.
“We …have witnessed an intensification of operations on the ground. We have also had support from the private sector in bolstering our efforts,” he informed.
He noted that the training of Resident Magistrates and Clerks of Courts is “to reinforce just how serious we as a Government are in tackling the criminal offences of praedial larceny and farm theft.”
He noted that praedial larceny not only literally robs “our honest hardworking farmers and their families of the opportunity to reap what they have sown, nurtured and grown, but is also the greatest deterrent to agricultural growth given that this scourge discourages new players from entering in this sector.”
“It is imperative that praedial larceny is no longer viewed as a petty crime…the perspective of the judiciary and the Jamaican public must be that of a crime, which threatens our food security and that of the nation,” he said.
“As for all crimes that have such social and economic consequences the penalties awarded under the law and the manner in which the court discharges its duties must fit the serious nature of this crime,” he noted further.
Minister Kellier informed that members of the JCF, farmers, butchers, lay magistrates, veterinarians, rural community members and other key stakeholders, have also been sensitised about the role they play in helping to eliminate praedial larceny and apprehend offenders.