Monday, 14 May 2012 02:30
By Colin Sampson
Antigua St John's - Greg Zacky, one of the two originators of the proposed “Zacky-Mann” poultry farming operation, has moved to make it entirely clear that the project in which he and associate Ron Mann are jointly engaged is in no way connected to Zacky Farms.
The only connection, said Zacky, is that he himself grew up within the family-run operation, where over a period of 25 years, he acquired wide and deep knowledge of the poultry business. Zacky Farms has been ranked as the 17th largest poultry farming operation in the United States.
Zacky emphasizes, however, that the development proposal currently being considered by the Government of Antigua & Barbuda is solely his concern and that of his partner in the venture, Ron Mann.
In fact, said Zacky, the commonly used name “Zacky-Mann Poultry Farm” is simply a working title, which in the fullness of time will be replaced by a more suitable, regionally-flavoured name. For example, an earlier version of the proposal plan for St Vincent would have been known as “Hirouna Poultry Company Limited”.
Zacky told Caribarena.com that the attempt to establish the operation in St Vincent foundered on the issue of land availability. He explained that for effective operation, the poultry venture would require 1,000 acres of land. This proved somewhat problematic in St Vincent.
Zacky advised that the proposal does not call for the required land space to be provided in one contiguous block. The plan, he said, entails the establishment of 50 separate and widely dispersed poultry-raising modules, each occupying at least 20 acres of land.
This format is required for reasons of bio-security: separate and dispersed facilities will minimize the risk of viral and other infections spreading from one area to another, possibly annihilating the entire poultry population.
At present, said Zacky, he and Ron Mann are only in consultations with the Government of Antigua & Barbuda. While the land areas to be utilized are still to be identified and matters relating to economic concessions remain to be finalized, Zacky is confident that once matters proceed at a satisfactory pace sod can be broken by year end.
The project, which entails an investment of US$75 million, is intended to produce whole chickens and chicken parts. The objective is to entirely replace Antigua & Barbuda’s imports of frozen chicken. The country consumes 5,800 metric tons of imported frozen chicken annually. Surplus production will be exported to the CARICOM area.
Zacky forecasted that 805 permanent jobs will be created when the poultry operation is in full swing. This, he said, should take some four years to achieve. He also estimates that 600 construction jobs will be created at the outset, tapering off to perhaps 150 as the project develops.
On the issue of protection for local egg producers, Zacky emphasized that no eggs will be produced either for local consumption or for export. He noted that the poultry operation will produce eggs for its own internal breeding purposes only.
The operation plans to mill its own poultry feeds, which Zacky suggested may well benefit local poultry farmers as they gain access to cheaper, high-quality feeds. The venture also plans to move into the business of milling animal feeds generally, which will give a boost to the livestock sector in general.