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The Minister of Agriculture has been accused of letting down the people of Antigua and Barbuda by the Member of Parliament for St. George, Algernon Serpent Watts, who has demanded that he resign from his position.
Initially hopeful about the minister’s agricultural background, Watts has now claimed that his expectations have been dashed almost a year later.
Watts has criticized the government for their lack of progress in the agriculture sector, despite promises of support for farmers and improvements in food security.
During the parliamentary session, Watts shared his unusual decision to present his criticisms directly to the minister he was shadowing.
He accused the government of presenting “a set of lies and misfigures” in response to his concerns, and he lamented the burden of unnecessary taxes imposed on citizens.
The MP has also raised concerns about the poor working conditions in the Agriculture Ministry, citing horror stories from technicians and advocating for a more supportive environment for those working in unpredictable climatic conditions.
Watts has highlighted specific issues, including the relocation of the ministry headquarters to a hospital on Newgent Avenue, the removal of the plant protection unit from Cades Bay, and the uncertain future of the pineapple estate in the same area.
He has demanded answers from the minister regarding decisions on agricultural research stations and leases, accusing the government of negligence.
The parliamentarian has expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s response to the impact of climate change on the agriculture sector, criticizing their focus on international conferences rather than taking tangible actions to support local farmers.
Watts has also questioned the minister’s figures on increased agricultural output, given the adverse weather conditions and lack of government support.
Finally, Watts has drawn attention to the government’s deposit on a chicken abattoir, demanding accountability for the funds and the promised facility.
He concluded his speech with a strong call for the minister’s resignation, stating that, if he was patriotic and cared about the country, he should “call it a day.”
As this parliamentary session continues, MP Algernon Serpent Watts’ accusations and demands are likely to generate further debate and scrutiny over the government’s handling of the agriculture sector in Antigua and Barbuda.