It was a full day of encouragement and rejuvenation as the entire staff of all departments, divisions, units, offices and affiliated organisations of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs, gathered at the Multipurpose Center at Perry Bay for the Ministry’s first Annual Staff Retreat last Friday.
The event was held under the theme, “Ready, Set, Grow.”
Dressed in their colourful T-Shirts bearing the ministry’s Logo, the audience heard inspiring speeches and presentations from a number of key individuals including Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs Hon. Dean Jonas, Permanent Secretary, Colin O’Keiffe and Guest Presenter, Chief Nutritionist Samantha Moitt.
Minister Jonas, whose idea it was to host such an event, spoke of the need for more focus to be placed on the business development aspect of the agriculture sector.
Minister Jonas said that under-productivity by some departments has been causing the Ministry to lose out on profits and it’s time that they step up their performances in these areas.
He made the point while presenting a budgetary report for 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Minister Jonas listed some key values that would enhance working relationship and productivity as safety, respect, integrity and teamwork. He said his door is always open and that staff members should not be afraid to request help where needed in order to get the job done more effectively.
“If you need help, you should ask for it. No one should feel that his or her position is in danger when he or she feels that a better job can be done with a little help.”
He continued, “you should also provide help when you can, especially when it would help others to do a better job. No doubt this means you will be making extra effort and personal sacrifices. Those efforts will be recognized by the people around you and may eventually even lead to material improvements in your situation.”
Meanwhile, the Agriculture minister noted that he would like to see more locally- produced items on the shelves at the Central Marketing Corporation (CMC) and that CMC should find innovative ways to do more to market Antiguan goods globally.
P.S O’Keiffe told staff members that at times, they must adjust their efforts to meet new demands and new expectations as it cannot be business as usual if the Ministry is to make a greater impact on the country’s economic development.
“As such, we must seek to continuously improve our capacity to deliver, especially in an environment where priorities shift so often. Our clients are many: some are famers, some are fishermen, we also serve the media, hotels, the general public, other government offices, development partners, private sector personnel and other clients locally, regionally and internationally.”
He emphasized that the exchanges, collaboration and constructive confrontation that take place at forums like a retreat, could only assist all in better understanding how best to conduct daily activities for the optimum benefits of clients.
“The executive management of the ministry is of the firm view that if appropriately received and applied, this retreat can ultimately have positive impacts on absenteeism, presenteeism and work distress, thereby drastically improving work engagement and life satisfaction,” P.S O’Keiffe stated.