Agreement failure

Outgoing FAO boss, Florita Kentish gets a farewell gift from Kay Connell on behalf of a grateful staff.

Implementation of a capacity building agreement between the Barbados Government and the FAO, has been stalled.

During her formal farewell and appreciation luncheon at the Island Inn Hotel this afternoon, the Barbados-based outgoing FAO Sub-Regional Coordinator for the Caribbean, Florita Kentish said this country has been slow in honouring the agreement.

“With respect to Barbados and the Sub-Regional Office Agreement, slow progress has been achieved regarding the transfer of junior professionals within the context of capacity building,” said Kentish, who leaves office at the end of this month.

“It is my wish that this matter be speedily resolved to redound to the benefit of Barbados.”

The FAO representative, who is leaving after a three-year tenure, explained to Barbados TODAY after the formal ceremony, that the Ministry of Agriculture had agreed to transfer its young professionals to the agency, so they could acquire first-hand expertise on working with international agencies.

“A few years ago, there was a decision that the organisation, our organisation, saw the need in Barbados, as it is in the rest of the Caribbean, to build capacity in ministerial staff in certain areas dealing with food security and the likes,” she recalled.

“And we offered, that we would, on a rotational basis, make our offices available, to junior professionals. These would be staff members of the ministry up to post graduate level, but they would work along with our professional staff, technical staff, on a rotational basis, let’s say on a three-year basis.”

She noted that since it would be done in rotation, more and more ministry staff would benefit over time. Kentish said, such an attachment would allow the employees to learn their way of working in an international organisation and consequently take the knowledge back to the government departments with respect to building capacity.

“It started out with the Government of Barbados, as this is where our office is housed. But the thought is that if there are other governments in the region that wished some of their staff to come under the programme, with time, we would do that, and therefore have a real cadre regional professionals, who are at an international level,” she suggested.

Looking back at her stint in office, Kentish reported that despite the economic and unemployment challenges of member countries in the region, the FAO continued to push its mandate, strengthening relationships with key stakeholders like those in Barbados.

She said too, that her organisation made strides in several key areas designed to mitigate the effects of a weakening global economy.

“[We] continued our programme to target increased production and productivity of farmers and moved to put in place, food and nutrition security policies and action plans at the sub-regional as well as national level,” announced Kentish, who is going to live in Anguilla with her husband and set up a farm there.

In response, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Michael King admitted his ministry’s tardiness in implementing the capacity building agreement and pledged to correct it.

The farewell ceremony was also attended by Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Senator Haynesley Benn, the UN Representative in Barbados Michelle Gyles McDonough and other officials of regional and international organisations, including the Caribbean Development Bank. (EJ)

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