What institutions did she attend?

  • Codrington High School, Barbados
  • Queen’s College, Barbados
  • The University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine, Trinidad- BSc in Agriculture, PhD in Crop Science

Other Achievements

  • Queen’s College Association Award, 1985
  • FAO Gold Medal, 1984
  • The 10th Anniversary Award of the Barbados Agricultural Society, 1984
  • The first woman to be awarded the Inter-American Agricultural Award for Young Professionals for the Antilles Zone, 1979


She has an extensive collection of souvenir spoons from different countries.


She writes the newspaper column, “Down to Earth” under the pen name, Agro-Doc.


She co-authored a cookbook to raise funds for drug rehabilitation and does voluntary work for the environmental group, Future Centre.

Frances Chandler (Date of Birth: 16th Dec 1946)

Caribbean Women in STI

Senator Dr Frances Louise Chandler is Barbados’ first female agronomist, and the first agronomist to serve as Independent Senator. She chose to become an agronomist because she recognised the importance of improving food production and increasing food security in her country. She is known for her work on the production, handling and packaging of fresh produce in Barbados for international markets.

Dr Chandler worked at the Ministry of Agriculture and also the Caribbean Agricultural, Research and Development Institute (CARDI) for almost three decades. She did extensive research on onions to expand the growing season, by selecting a high yielding, disease-tolerant variety with a long shelf life. She also did considerable work on various root, fruit and vegetable crops like yams, melons, lettuce, ochroes and sweet peppers.

In 1997, she started her own consulting business, Horticultural Business Solutions Inc. She uses her extensive experience to increase the efficiency of individual growers and companies involved in food production, marketing and distribution.

She was born on 16th December, 1946 in St Phillip, Barbados. Her father started as a welder in a sugar factory before he was promoted to sugar factory manager. She lived in an area surrounded by cane fields and attended a small primary school in the countryside. For her Advanced Level examinations, she and another student undertook a detailed study of the cultivation of a sugar cane field, recording all operations from planting through to harvesting. It looked at the growth of the crop as well as the weed flora, and her overall examination results won her a national scholarship.

She credits her parents’ good examples of discipline, industry and a good work ethic for her success. She assures students that pursuing careers in science and technology is rewarding. It inculcates discipline, practicality and logical thinking, which are useful in every facet of life.


What is an agronomist?

Agronomists apply crop production and soil management principles to produce good quality, high-yielding crops. They use selective breeding to improve plant varieties for various purposes e.g. better yields, resistance to pests and diseases, and longer storage life after harvesting. They conduct research and develop plans to increase crop yields using land, water, fertilizers and pesticides efficiently. They also promote cultivation practices that safeguard the environment.

Areas of Specialisation

  • Crop rotation
  • Irrigation and drainage
  • Plant breeding
  • Plant physiology
  • Soil fertility
  • Weed control
  • Insect and disease control

What do I need to study?

At CSEC and CAPE: Biology, Chemistry, Agricultural Science, Mathematics

A degree in agriculture, agronomy, crop science, soil science, or environmental science is required at minimum.

What skills and traits do I need?

  • Interest in plants
  • Enjoyment of fieldwork
  • Ability to work independently and in a team
  • Communication and listening skills
  • Research and problem-solving skills

Famous Agronomists

  • Norman Borlaug
  • Yuan Longping
  • Jia Sixie
  • Evangelina Villegas
  • Monkombu S. Swaminathan