Agriculture officer says staff was unaware of ‘repurposing’ of Dunbars lands; sources say acres be swapped with Arab family

In a surprising move in the ongoing saga at the Dunbars Agricultural
Station, a civil servant has “categorically disassociated” herself from
claims that she and the staff “were aware of the Cabinet decision on
the repurposing of the lands.”

That “repurposing,” according to sources in the Ministry of
Agriculture, includes the hand over of several acres to an Arab
family in a swap for lands at Paynters.

Via a George Wehner report last Friday, December 29, residents
were made aware of developments at the Friars Hill location, where
trees, ground crops, and even irrigation equipment were destroyed
by backhoes that reportedly were clearing the area to accommodate

Responding to public criticism, Agriculture Minister Paul “Chet”
Greene claimed that the staff and farmers were aware of the
Cabinet’s plans to use the acreage for purposes that were more in
keeping with the upscale development of the area.

However, in a signed statement dated January 2, 2024 and
addressed to the director of agriculture, a senior officer of the
Cotton Division says that, “on numerous occasions,” she had verbally
asked her superiors – who are the director and the permanent
secretary – about existing decisions on the “hand over” of lands.

Yet, up to the point of Tuesday’s correspondence being penned, she
says, she had “not received a response on the matter.”
Further, she writes, “I would not be used as an agent to disseminate
any information pertaining to the destruction of crops that were in
the fields on Friday 2th December, 2023.”

The senior officer says the “distasteful event could have been
avoided,” had there been communication with the staff on the
ground. “We could have implemented measures nine (9) months
ago if we were given proper directives on the way forward,” the
memo continues.

The officer closes by suggesting that an urgent meeting be held to
“implement a short term plan for a speedy PROFESSIONAL AND
TECHNICAL resolution on this [matter].

The correspondence was copied to Minister Greene and the
permanent secretary, as well as the Antigua and Barbuda Trades
and Labour Union and the Antigua and Barbuda Public Service