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Negotiations Ongoing for Poultry Farm Project

23 January 2013

ANTIGUA & BARBUDA - Negotiations are ongoing between the Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority (ABIA) and Ciboney Poultry Company (CPC) for the establishment of a first-world poultry farm in Antigua and Barbuda.

The capital investment in the project, which will focus mainly on the export market, is US $75 million. The fully-functioning poultry production operation will provide direct employment for approximately 800 persons.

Chairman of the ABIA Dr McChesney Emanuel has responded to concerns that the establishment of CPC will adversely affect local poultry farmers.

"We are restructuring what exists in the poultry industry by setting a new standard for Antigua and Barbuda with this project," Dr Emanuel said. "We met with all stakeholders – operators, distributors and producers – to discuss the project, and, during these consultative meetings, unmistakable assurance was given, and they understand, that all stakeholders will have enhanced opportunities for growing their businesses and that no one will be forced out of the industry."

Dr Emanuel also explained that the stipulation for the importation of live birds or bird eggs for hatching, other than those imported by CPC, to cease is a mechanism to ensure bio-safety and to safeguard the integrity of the product, in keeping with industry standards.

"The Ministry of Agriculture will set the policy relating to bio-safety, and that will also deal with the importation of birds. CPC’s position is that eggs and birds will be made available to the producers, through CPC, and this will guarantee the local producers a stable, ready supply, at an affordable price and at established industry standards," Dr Emanuel said.

CPC principal Ron Mann further explained that local producers would be eligible for compensation, from CPC, for any losses incurred.

"What we are asking is for the importation to stop once we reach the construction stage, although people who have flocks can finish out that cycle. All those producers will be compensated, by Ciboney, for any lost income," Mr Mann said.

"This is a product for export and we will have to reach international standards and bio-safety is important. The purpose of this is to ensure that we can adhere to the standards. We are safeguarding against someone with a 50-100-bird flock infecting a million-bird flock," Mr Mann added.

The compensation process, he added, will be channeled through the Ministry of Agriculture.

The ABIA chairman also said the concessions being granted to CPC are the same considerations that have been given to other investors of similar scope.

The poultry farm will consist of three breeder ranches; two pullet ranches; one hatchery; 40 grow-out ranches; a feed mill; a processing plant; a rendering facility; a maintenance facility; and a medical care facility.

Among CPC’s request for land is at least 25 acres in an industrial waterfront area for the feed mill, to facilitate the large-scale importation of grain.

Mr Mann said CPC would be socially responsible, establishing a medical clinic, for employees and their immediate families, for medical, dental and eye care; by providing up to six full scholarships per annum for Antiguans and Barbudans to study specialized areas in the poultry industry; and by promoting from within, among other aspects.

"We have no intention to put anyone out of business, and we have said that to the stakeholders when we met with them and outlined our plans. What we will ensure is that the $30 million that is spent importing frozen chicken into the country stays in the country and that people get fresh produce. We are also committed to contributing to the economy, by direct employment, construction, and by provisioning goods and services," Mr Mann said.

However, according to Caribarena Antigua, the Antigua & Barbuda Poultry Farmers Association has distanced itself from suggestions of support for the poultry company.

The association has subsequently issued the following statement: "With regards to the Ciboney Poultry Company project, the Antigua & Barbuda Poultry farmers Association would like to make this statement: Contrary to reports in the media, our association is unaware of any details regarding the aforementioned project and its possible impact on Antigua & Barbuda. The collective decision has been taken to seek tangible information before pursuing any action."

Association President Uriah Sheppard said the body brings together some 44 poultry farmers who produce poultry and eggs for the local market, and have the ability to meet the local demand for eggs for this month. The end goal being quantification and satisfaction of total demand for eggs year-round. The association has not yet able to meet the demand for poultry.

Mr Sheppard stated: "The aim of the association is that while we have an idea of total consumption we will work toward meeting that demand. As we speak, several farmers are already expanding their production with this in mind."

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