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Robertson celebrates 30 years of Public Service

Robertson celebrates 30 years of Public Service

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“It can be done. It just needs the determination and perseverance,” are the words that guide Chief Agricultural Officer (Ag) Reuben Robertson throughout his life.{{more}}

On Tuesday, 1st April, Robertson marked 30 years serving St. Vincent and the Grenadines through the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries as an Agricultural Officer.

Robertson joined the staff of the Ministry on April 1, 1978, a youngster, only 20 years old.

“I was considered the baby in Agriculture. I worked well with other senior officers because we were going through a transition period from the colonial period. We had a lot of discipline,” he claimed.

Since being employed at the Ministry, Robertson went on to achieve an honours diploma in Agriculture from the Eastern Caribbean Institute for Agriculture and Forestry (ECIAF), an Upper Second Class honours degree in Agricultural Science (BSc) and an MSc degree in Agricultural Economics, as well as a range of other certificates relating to Agriculture.

He is also St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) coordinator, first Agricultural Planning Officer and sat on a number of boards of statutory bodies.

Robertson was one of the architects of the Agricultural Diversification Programme, now being executed through the Agricultural Diversification Planning and Implementation Unit (ADPIU). He also provided consultation for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) project.

Demonstrating his ingenuity, he assisted in the orchestration of projects such as the coconut water bottling plant, the cassava processing plant, the poultry hatchery at Dumbarton and the root crop vacuum pack facility at Lauders.

As fate may have it, Robertson is at the helm of Agriculture at another transitional period.

He said the challenges facing agriculture at present are more dynamic, and the mode of operation needs to be heightened with respect to productivity. “That is the only way we would be able to meet our food security needs with some level of sustainability.”

Presently, as Chief Agricultural Officer (Ag), Robertson has vowed to further educate and develop the skills of stakeholders in the industry, with a focus on the farmers and extension officers.

The CAO (Ag) said farmers and extension officers need to be retrained and repositioned. He views this as a serious task ahead.

“It will be my responsibility to first of all expose the extension officers to a more modern critical type of thinking, which will allow for the building of a new agriculture.”

He said he would love to see the selection process of extension officers reversed to what it was in the earlier days, where officers were recruited by government in batches and underwent in-house training for one month then were evaluated by the Ministry.

“That in itself allowed persons to lift their game,” he said.

Looking back at his journey within the Ministry, Robertson said he had a good experience working over the years.

“I was always ambitious. My ambition was to always be the leader in anything I do,” he concluded.

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