PM defends his farming ventures amid criticism that his involvement is ‘self-serving’

Prime Minister Gaston Browne has responded to unfavorable comments levelled against him and his decision to become a large player in the country’s agriculture sector. This after Leader of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Joanne Massiah openly chastised Browne’s move on Observer’s Big Issues Program.  She argued that the Prime Minister’s involvement appears to be self-serving as it would propel him to become the biggest food producer in the twin-island state.

“I want to tell you that food is the future, and our Prime Minister Gaston Browne knows this and this is why he has strategically positioned himself with his farm, because come hell or high water, come hardships or not, people have to eat. With the escalating cost of living and the imports of food which can be grown here, the Prime Minister is positioning and has positioned himself to be the next major local producer of food in Antigua and Barbuda,” according to the DNA leader.

However, in response, Browne said on local talk radio over the weekend that he believes his involvement with farming has had a positive effect on the agricultural sector. He also revealed that sourcing investment into his farm of almost EC $1 million has lessened his financial interest in his farming venture. The Prime Minister told listeners that expansion of the country’s agriculture products will reduce the import of chicken and any talks about deliberately pushing small farmers out of the market are to mislead residents.

“I can guarantee you by the end of 2022, you will see a reduction in the chicken imports coming into the country. These investments are not crowding out the small farmers — as those charlatans love to argue; you know differently. What they are doing is displacing imports for the people of Antigua and Barbuda,” he said.

In April of 2021, Prime Minister Browne announced that his business, Farmer DG Browne Company Limited had been registered with him as the sole shareholder. He further stated that whereas electors have the choice to vote for him, they have no sovereignty over how he spends or invests his legitimately earned income and borrowings.

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