DOE and Layers Association at odds over egg tray making machine

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Ambassador Diann Black-Layne categorically denies the Association’s claims
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By Latrishka Thomas

[email protected]

The Department of Environment’s (DOE) allocation of an egg tray making machine has left the country’s Layer Farmers’ Association displeased as, according to them, they were in advanced discussions to acquire the equipment.

In a recent leaked voice-note sent within the Association’s WhatsApp group, President Emanuel Peters lamented that the machine they apparently applied for was nabbed by somebody with a “personal interest from the government’s end” – even after the group provided the department with information on the best machine to purchase.

However, the DOE has categorically denied those claims.

The DOE’s Director, Ambassador Diann Black-Layne, said the entire voice message was “factually incorrect”.

She admitted that the department had discussions with the group but said the DOE never agreed to give them the machine, which takes paper and carboard waste and processes it to produce a sludge material that can make egg cartons and other similar items.

“One of the options we were actually thinking is, we can let the Poultry Association – since they cover all persons, all things poultry – work with them in partnership, not to give it to them. We never said anything like that.

“We did ask them to apply for a grant and, based on what they submit, we will see what we can work with,” she explained.

In a press release sent out yesterday, the DOE further stated that they had “been reliably informed that the Poultry Association has since split into two separate associations. The existence of two separate associations has proven to be a significant road block in the implementation of this project due to the fact that the DOE cannot, in the implementation of its project, facilitate unfair market advantages of one group of stakeholders over another”.

However, Black-Layne said the selection process required due diligence and “nobody is going to give them $100,000 piece of equipment when they have no track record with managing equipment, recycling anything”.

“The only reason we spoke to the egg farmers is to make sure that the final product will suit them and that is something that they will purchase,” she later stated.

The ambassador also disclosed that the plan was to give the machine to Antigua Barbuda Waste Recycling Corporation but “the DOE is in the process of determining the best approach to ensure a fair and equitable outcome for all stakeholders who may benefit from the machine,” a release from the department stated.

She justified that move by saying, “Solid Waste has had a long interest. We’ve been working with them for over four to five years now as well as some other local stakeholders. I think they formed an association which I don’t remember now for recycling of waste. They’ve been lobbying hard for recycling of waste.”

But Peters maintains that his association was blindsided because, based on their discussions, they got the impression that they would be getting the machine.

He said they were tasked with finding out what machine best suits their needs and were then told by the DOE that they were “working on it and will get back to them”.

“Is only today (Wednesday) I have heard all these excessive things that we did not have or we’re supposed to have for them to make a decision for the final home of the machinery. Within the last month of conversation nothing at all of that nature was said to us. If it was needed, we have all the documentation,” the Layers Association President added.

Peters also lamented that “you cannot make a decision of a sector and not involve the people who are directly involved in the sector,” explaining that the machine purchased does not cater to their main need which is for trays that hold a dozen eggs.

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