A MAN who has been at the forefront of the banana industry’s fight against yellow sigatoka disease has hung up his trademark yellow cap.
After eight years and more than 300,000km traversing north Queensland farms, Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) yellow sigatoka liaison officer, Louis Lardi, has retired.
According to the ABGC, Mr Lardi visited 240 farms twice a year (except for the year of Cyclone Yasi) to inspect for sigatoka leaf spot and other diseases.
He worked under industry pioneer Mort Johnston, later went on to grow his own banana crop for 17 years, and joined the ABGC team in February 2010.
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“The best part of the job is interaction with the growers, being involved in bananas and helping the industry,” Mr Lardi said.
“I really enjoyed visiting all farms twice a year and catching up with growers who have become friends. I’ve formed some very good relationships.”
Mr Lardi said he will miss being part of the industry.
“But I have five grandchildren and one on the way. There are things I want to do with my life and going to work is not one of them,” he said.
ABGC’s chief executive officer Jim Pekin said Mr Lardi’s contribution to the industry was immense.
“Louis always went the extra mile for the industry, not just with Leaf Spot, but with assisting growers however he could, for example in Cyclone Yasi recovery in 2011,” Mr Pekin said.
“He was also a great assistance to me and his other colleagues.”
Carl Rickson, who worked on the Panama TR4 biosecurity program, is the new plant health officer.
Mr Rickson’s job involved three main elements.
“He’ll continue to do pest and disease inspections on all NQ farms, inform growers on the symptoms of important endemic and exotic diseases, disease management, and on biosecurity best management practices, and conduct disease data analysis, mapping and reporting,” Mr Pekin said.
“His role does not include providing banana growing or agronomic advice.”