The agriculture sector has been identified as one of the five economic drivers for the CARICOM region. The growth and development of this sector is dependent on the quality of its human resource capacity. CARDI, recognizes this and given its mandate, experience, long history and geographic spread is capable and willing to take the lead in a CARDI led On-The-Job Training/ Young Professional Development intervention in the sector. Such an intervention will contribute to the transformation of the agriculture sector in the region. It will also provide CARDI and the region as a whole with a much needed cadre of young professionals to drive the development of the agriculture sector in the Caribbean.
KISTIAN FLEMMING -Climate Change Specialist and Country Representative, St. Kitts
Upon my completion of a Bachelor’s of Science Degree at the University of the West Indies, I became quite keen on acquiring work experience before the pursuit of advance level education. I thought that this would afford me the opportunity to both develop professionally and to help me define a career path. In a highly competitive world of work with no shortage of graduates, the On-the-Job-Training (OJT) of Trinidad and Tobago granted me this opportunity. I began my training in 2012 at the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI). I entered into an environment that immediately called upon the theoretical knowledge I acquired at University to apply it to solving a ‘real world problem’. My GIS background helped to identify the suitable location and positioning to install an Automatic Weather Station at the Sugarcane Feed Centre Experiment Station. During my time at CARDI, the nexus between agriculture, areas of security (food, income, nutrition) and climate changes became most interesting to me. With the support of my seniors, I became confident that I would later pursue a postgraduate degree in the field of climate change. Between 2016 and 2017 I completed and graduated from the University of East Anglia with Masters of Science in Climate change and International Development with a specialisation in water security for agriculture. Today I function in the position of Climate Change Development Specialist and CARDI Country Representative for St. Kitts and Nevis. I aim to particularly target water resource management in the agricultural sector to reduce climate risk, enhance incomes and address national development concerns. This journey began with the support and encouragement of the On the Job training programme by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.
TRISTAN ALVEREZ-Project Management Specialist
As a recipient of the On-The-Job Training (OJT) Programme, it has allowed for my development such that without it, it is hardly likely that I would currently be where I am today. I am currently the Project ManagementSpecialist for the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) however, what led to this position was my initial placement at CARDI under the OJT Programme. As a means of gaining experience and exposure to the agricultural sector and in relation to my area of study which was Agribusiness and Geography, I was placed at CARDI as an Information Clerk working in the library. As time passed, I was exposed to the research arm of CARDI by way of handling requests for information. These requests came from both internal and external persons and this interaction widened my scope and appreciation of the agricultural sector. I also had the opportunity to network with scientists who made such requests as well as stakeholders in the agriculture sector from along the value chain.
As a result of a deliberate move by CARDI based on my qualifications, I was given a different role when transferred to the Resource Mobilization Unit, facilitating new growth and development. I was entrusted with more responsibility having now direct interactions with management and scientists not only from CARDI but other regional and national institutions. I was able to participate in meetings where decisions which impacted stakeholder lives were being made. This included travel duty to such events as the Caribbean Week of Agriculture held regionally and project activities conducted in different Caribbean countries. Additionally, core skills in concept note development, budget preparation, proposal development amongst many others were honed and ultimately led to my acceptance as a member of staff when my OJT tenure came to an end and eventual promotion to the position I currently hold.
I can say unequivocally, that the OJT Programme was what paved the way for me in forging a career in the agricultural sector, going further than simply providing experience for a job, it charted a pathway for upward mobility within an organization but equipping me with skills, knowledge, experience and exposure that I could take with me to other institutions within the same sector or another sector entirely. The OJT Programme is also what you make of it, necessitating that one grasp at the opportunities afforded. I regard the OJT Programme as the gateway and platform to being so much more, and that is what I am, so much more from where I once started.
HEIDI JACK– Livestock Officer and PHD Candidate
I am Heidi Jack, a livestock officer currently pursuing doctoral studies at Massey University, New Zealand which is a major component of my work programme at Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI). This journey as a Livestock Officer was sparked through my engaging in the On Job Training (OJT) programme at CARDI.
I’ve had a number of on job training experiences in a few organisations before I got into the programme at CARDI in February 2010. The experience I had at the CARDI, in comparison to that of the other organisations was one that was rich, directional, insightful and allowed me to engage a track of development that was certainly cut out for me. My immersion in the programme resulted in the establishment of a repertoire of skills including executing basic administration duties such as creating and managing filing systems, data entry, events management and related official communication tasks to the more technical responsibilities including project
management, report writing; conducting research and reviews on specific topics related to Caribbean agriculture; and networking with key intra and extra regional stakeholders across different regional agriculture gatherings.
All these were and still are fundamental for my operations even today! At CARDI there is a strong appreciation for youth and youth development which I can certainly attest to. It’s an enabling environment of support and mentorship that has allowed me to expand as a young professional and I would recommend this as an experience to be had by any young professional interested in becoming a resource to the development of Caribbean Agriculture.