Cabinet says work on poultry abattoir will begin soon; farmer says he will believe it when egg-box machine goes into operation

The Cabinet has agreed that work will soon begin on a chicken abattoir, and this will assist poultry farmers in butchering their fowls.

The Executive notes that Antigua and Barbuda has become self-sufficient in eggs but not in chicken meat. Accordingly, more than $20 million is spent each year importing poultry from large producers in Brazil, the United States and elsewhere.

This week’s Cabinet Notes say it has long been an ambition of local food producers to provide sufficient meat for domestic consumers, and chicken has been accepted as the local favourite.

While the Executive claims that every effort will be made to meet market demands, as far as possible, poultry farmers, themselves, are not convinced of the Administration’s commitment.

One farmer confirmed to REAL News that the egg-box-making machine that was received here more than a year ago has still not been put into operation.

That matter became contentious last year when one of the poultry-farmers associations claimed it had been instrumental in getting the machine to Antigua and was interested in taking possession of it.

However, an official from the Ministry of the Environment struck down that claim, saying it was the work of a government agency.  In the ensuing accusations and denials, the decision was made to store the machine – reportedly in a disused warehouse at Powells – since no one had been trained, at the time, to operate it.

The farmer says that, up to yesterday, he is confident that the machine remained in storage and has not been put to use.

Based on that, he says, the reality of an abattoir for poultry is nowhere in the near future.  Had it been, he says, the Administration would have promoted it during the recent election campaign, and that was not done.

He says it is an idea put out since Dean Jonas served as Minister of Agriculture, but no steps have been taken to realize it.