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Barbados’ Chief Agri Officer is CARDI’s new boss

Incoming Executive Director of the Caribbean Agricultural Research Development Institute, Barton Clarke (Demwaves photo)

 The new boss of the cash-strapped Caribbean Agricultural Research Development Institute (CARDI) is Barbadian, Barton Clarke.

Outgoing Executive Director, Dr. Arlington Chesney made the announcement on the sidelines of the 13th Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA 2014) that wrapped up in Suriname on Friday.

Clarke’s appointment was ratified by the Board of Governors of CARDI that also met in this former Dutch colony in South America. He declined to speak with the media at this stage until all of the arrangements for his appointment and take over have been finalized.

When Chesney hands over to Clarke by year-end, the new head of CARDI would be taking over a cash-strapped regional institution whose staff members are usually paid late. Pensioners of the Institute are also owed huge amounts of money.

The outgoing Executive Director hinted that the Board of Governors has agreed to ask member-states to pay up their membership dues over a period of time. Agriculture Ministers are then expected to take that recommendation to Caribbean Community (Caricom) leaders. “Why we talk about sustainability is that if we don’t address those debts the ability for CARDI in the future to get money from external sources will disappear,” he told reporters.

Seven years ago when Chesney joined CARDI, he recalled that 80 to 90 percent of the institution’s operational budget was from membership dues but that has slid to 40 percent.  The Guyana-born Chesney urged that membership dues be backed up by external resources for research. 

Clarke, who previously worked with CARDI and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), will have firstly have to lead his team to design strategies get more cash to run the research facility.