(By Dean Dr Isaac Bekele)
August 1st, 2016 marks the end of four years since the Faculty has been in existence in its current configuration-the Faculty of Food and Agriculture (FFA). During that period the Faculty has been able to accomplish a number tasks, some of which are critical to its own development to better discharge its mandate. At the same time a number of undergraduate curricula have been reviewed and new programmes introduced.
As part of The UWI mission to contribute to the region’s socio-economic transformation through the development of trained human resources to support the agribusiness sector at all levels, the Faculty is implementing an effective and efficient approach to achieve this in collaboration with the relevant institutions offering diploma/associate degrees in agriculture. A lot of effort was focused on the development of internal resources and capacity and the creation of new partnerships and the strengthening of old ones. A new farm was established in Orange Grove where greenhouses have been constructed and in operation, through a collaborative effort with China Agriculture University (CAU).
New vegetable lines have been introduced and are under evaluation in the greenhouses. In addition, lines of sweet and field corn are being evaluated in the field. As part of the collaborative arrangement with CAU, effort is being made to train Caribbean persons in the disciplines of plant genetics and breeding through two phases. The first phase involves our students completing MSc level training in CAU with funding provided through CAU for two years. Following the completion of the MSc, the graduates will enroll for PhD level training at FFA.
Operations at the University Field Station at Mount Hope saw marked improvements in some key areas.
Focus was also placed on student development, graduate studies, research and outreach and employee engagement.
As I welcome the new Dean, Dr Wayne Ganpat and wish him all the best as he endeavours to continueto take the FFA forward, I would like to express my gratitude to The UWI for the opportunity to serve.
In particular, I would like to convey my heartfelt thanks to the staff of the Dean’s Office and my colleagues and Deputy Deans, Professor Mattias Boman, Dr Lynda Wickham and Dr Mark Wuddivira, for their invaluable contributions in re-shaping the Faculty during my term.
My sincere thanks also to the staff of the newly established Communications and Publications Unit and to Professor Julian Duncan for his selfless service as Editor In Chief of the Tropical Agriculture journal.