Agriculture minister refutes claims of land giveaway

Dean Jonas

The Agriculture Minister Dean Jonas is puzzled by the controversy that’s being stirred up around a pending agricultural project with a Chinese firm.

The draft document speaks of the Chinese getting two thousand acres of land in Barbuda and the same quantity in Antigua. It’s this sizeable allocation that has many farmers up in arms against the project…

But Jonas has slammed the detractors, saying that contrary to reports, the Chinese government will get nothing but satisfaction in helping Antigua and Barbuda to modernize its agriculture sector and achieve food security.

Jonas says the Chinese firm is getting no concessions and he is urging Antiguans and Barbudans to show gratitude for the gift.

He also says that under his watch, the project will not go the way of other agricultural projects funded by the Chinese government.

The Agriculture Minister says he will meet Tuesday with farmers who are concerned about the project.

Jonas and a representative from the Chinese firm initialed the document here in Antigua, almost two weeks ago.

The three-year project will see eight Chinese agricultural experts working in Antigua for three years. They will provide technical on vegetable and tree cultivation as well as agri-processing.

They will also establish seven greenhouses; two for experimental demonstrations and five for commercial production in the Greencastle area.