February 9, 2007
Chief Agricultural Officer bids farewell

Chief Agricultural Officer Philmore Isaacs has been at the helm of the agricultural department in St Vincent and the Grenadines since 1992. He began his pre-retirement leave Thursday February 1, 2007.

The soft-spoken, former school principal joined the department on June 1st, 1987. He did his first degree in Botany at Leeds University in the UK and earned his masters degree in the Technology of Crop Protection at the University of Reading also in the UK. Isaacs also headed the Plant Protection Unit and the Research and Development Division before becoming Chief. On his last day in office Isaacs sat with SEARCHLIGHT’s Adrian Codogan for a chat.{{more}}

AC: Tell us some of the high points of your tenure?

Isaacs: The transformation of the staff of the department; their growth in professionalism, the development of the infrastructure including the various outstations from Rabacca to Wallilabou also the introduction of plant tissue culture.

AC: What’s your biggest disappointment?

Isaacs: The diversification Program; it has not taken off sufficiently, we held on to bananas too long and did not give the other crops the attention and focus needed to bring stability and sustainability to agriculture.

AC: What is the brightest spot in the diversification Program?

Isaacs: Dasheen, it is one of the most successful stories of diversification also poultry, egg production and pork.

AC: Are you disappointed in young people’s attitude to farming?

Isaacs: Absolutely not, we have not convinced them of the commercial value of agriculture and some of them don’t have access to lands.

AC: What is the future of bananas?

Isaacs: Banana would survive but in a different format, it has to radically move from an association to be run as a viable commercial producing company.

AC: We have an abundance of fruits in St Vincent and the Grenadines, do you think that we can process them in a commercial way?

Isaacs: We lost that opportunity when we closed Diamond Diary but there is still an opportunity to go into the direction of a medium sized company like the coconut water bottling plant. In the root crop industry we have to link primary produce to finished manufactured products.

AC: What are your retirement plans?

Isaacs: I hope to be active in agriculture, I have a small mixed farm I hope to bring it into commercial production. I am also open to consultancy and community work; service to country.

AC: Any regrets?

Isaacs: I have been blessed to serve my country at this high level. Blessed, no regrets.

AC: Last Words

Isaacs: I must thank the media. You have been a great help to agriculture through out the years in promoting our programs and disseminating information.