Few agriculture positions to be filled, says Bascombe

The Ministry of Agriculture has a few vacant positions that need to be filled, but some positions, based on the changing nature of the sector, are also no longer relevant, says acting permanent secretary in the ministry Terry Bascombe.

He was responding to Minister of Transport Santia Bradshaw who asked about additional resources to support the existing staff complement.

“The process is taking a little longer than I anticipated. One of the reasons is the continued dynamism within the sector where each time you think you have it right, you have further consultations and you recognise that there is need for further adjustment.

“We know that there are some critical positions to be filled,” Bascombe said, adding that they have also been impacted by people leaving.

“People are going in batches. In three years’ time we will lose three out of six people in one unit. We have also lost five persons to what we have no control over.”

He said while strategic positions needed to be filled that came from the changing nature of agriculture, some of those positions also needed proper training, some of which was not available on island.

“Some of those areas of expertise are so specific and we do not have those training modules in Barbados, so we have to source that level from the outside.”

Bascombe said that Barbados needed to up its level of education to meet the changing needs of the sector.

“There is some deficit in terms of the programmes that are being offered at some of the institutions that prepare person to come into the sector. There is a gap and we have to say to some of the institutions to look at their syllabus and you are training and getting a certificate but you are not functional given the way the agricultural sector is going.”

Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir said they were working on the process and “we were receiving cuts in budgets not increases.

The truth is we still have outstanding positions and to fill the post of deputy chief agricultural officer livestock and deputy chief agricultural crop. This has been an ongoing situation. Yes, I agree we need resources in order for us to achieve our deliverables.”

Bascombe said there was no provision in the Estimates for them to point out adding new staff and the costs associated, but a separate document is being prepared to address the human resource capacity. (NS)

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