Watts bemoans the plight of the agriculture industry in Parliament

MP Watts/ Wayne Mariette photo

Antigua Observer: Member of Parliament for St George, Algernon Watts, gave a passionate speech outlining the plight of farmers and the country’s agriculture industry in his response to the government’s budget for 2023.

In his first speech in Parliament, Watts referred to the government’s talk of supporting the agriculture industry by saying “the ravages that we faced due to the pandemic should have taught us some lessons as it relates to food safety, food security and food sovereignty…but it is always said ‘those of us that do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it’.

“In the past, this administration has shown no meaningful effort in supporting local farmers…if we look at the government’s budget estimates for 2023…it speaks to insufficient planning, poor collaboration with critical supporting agencies…absence of agriculture policies…lack of transportation to navigate the agriculture districts…yet we pay lip service to agriculture,” he said.

Watts also spoke about the dreadful state of many farms’ access roads.

“Roads to these farms are impassable…poultry farmers are complaining [that] when they are driving coming out with their eggs, eggs ah smash-up…it is difficult for farmers to bring food to the table under these conditions,” he explained.

He added that the issue of roads also has an effect on police responses to praedial larceny.

“The Commissioner of Police [Atlee Rodney] recently said that the roads are a hindrance to the police; the police cannot get to the farms—it is not stopping the thieves—but the feeder roads are so horrible that even if somebody spots a person on your farm and they call the police, the police…don’t waste time coming,” he said.

He implored the new Minister of Agriculture Chet Greene to “do better” than his predecessors who include former minister Dean Jonas and Minister Samantha Marshall.

Watts also spoke about the water woes that have affected the farming industry, claiming that “it is so serious that many farmers are giving up…I had to go to APUA on a daily basis to water plants—that is untenable.”

He continued, “I was looking through the budget to see what they are going to do about the construction and repairs of ponds and dams…our farmers have to be paying APUA thousands of dollars to run water to the farms,” he said.

He also noted that the agricultural outstations in several areas across Antigua are “deplorable” and need “intervention from the government”.

“All it takes is the right policy in place, because you have great technicians, they are well trained…and hard workers, all they would need is a proper policy in place and the support of the government,” he told the Parliament.

Watts also called for more consultation between government agencies and farmers in decision- making relating to the sector.

He beseeched the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Agriculture Chet Greene to ensure that the ministries under his portfolio are better coordinated for the benefit of the industry.

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  1. 26 ACRES of FARMing FOOL land full up a OLD STOVE, OLD FRIDGE and DIRTY PAMPERS

    This 🐍 🐍 🐍 Shadow Minister of Agriculture is a 🤡 and disgrace!!!

    Zero contribution to our Food Security!! 1 single pupa tree from a bird flying by and dropping the seed!

    • @Smh
      Yea he go farm with piss. Where is the water? I guess the operator of the farm use dirty pampers. Are you one of the people dumping their rubbish on other people’s property.. some are you Antiguans too nasty.

  2. Just tell them see…the imperialists don’t want to see us provide for ourselves. They provide grants and funding for all kinds of things other than that

  3. Serpent got the nerves to speak on the topic of Agriculture when he has 26 acres of Farm land that he is not utilizing instead of giving the land to someone who wants to farm.

  4. You know, what makes a debater good is the rebutter. And if one has followed the Budget Debate, we must all agree that the rebuttals were excellent. Not one of the UPP and other opposition members’ accusations stood in the end. They were all rebutted very cleverly. With facts. Actually, now we could finally separate the boys from the men. The experience from the just comers. Let’s see if they will grow over time. And we see how on Friday they were not even ready to proceed with the debate. And poor Pringle requested that the ABLP members go first so that they, the opposition, could rebut them. What a laugh.
    One math I could not comprehend and that was from Mr. Bowen. I think he has developed a new match when he said that in 1999, he got 588 votes out of 1000, and this year he got 584 votes out of 1200. Therefore, haven gotten 1184 out of 1200 he got about everyone’s support in the community at one time or the other. CAN ANYONE PLEASE EXPLAIN THIS MATCH TO ME. I am at a loss.

  5. PM for St. George did himself justice in the budgetary debate..
    The farm east of Pares Village has perfect roads , Chinese assisted security light, government paid technicians – The African spent more time on that farm then he did on his job. Same guy up at the Airport assisted cleaning his fellow countrymen and women.
    Chet Green has in eyes on becoming Prime Minister. He tried his best yesterday to sound that way. In the past he praised the Gaston Brown. Yesterday unlike the other ministers he use I. Gastón is a political Animal and picked up his pitch. So in his rapping up he Gaston went after Chet. He said i told the MP for St.Paul not to second guess me. Chet see where Michael Brown is , he tried to show up himself- you are next. Anyhow you are better at licking ass like you did with uncle Jack.
    Your African Extension officer, that was at the Airport meeting and greeting had ran off during elections. Ask him what he knows about the other African flights. Ask him about his other African friend that live in Carnival Garden área , just up the road from Christoes. The same one that ended up in the hospital with high blood pressure last week.
    Serpent yesterday a friend called me and said, I don’t like Serpent but he was impressive in parliament. These young Parliamentarians are putting pressure on the government. Today again Pringle kept up the pressure. Cutie tried to insult him and ended up apologizing because he ended up right. My question is if Lindel Benjaman did not sign properly does that make it right.
    Good debate guys in both sides of the political divide. Looking forward to future debates. Democracy at work.

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