FORGING a long standing war against Queensland fruit fly has earned Peter Leach the title of 2022 Bayer Researcher of the Year.
Mr Leach, principal entomologist and market access focus team Leader at the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, was recognised for his career at the Hort Connections 2022 conference in Brisbane last month.
The national award recognises a researcher who has a track record of research or extension work that has advanced the industry offering long-term industry benefits, who actively communicates research outcomes and encourages uptake of outcomes on-farm and who contributes research or extension work that advances the reputation of Australian science internationally.
Mr Leach has led a major portfolio of national market access disinfestation projects on fruit fly for more than 25 years.
Along with this research team, Mr Leach has provided data for the successful negotiation of commercially viable new market access protocols for numerous crops in Asia, the United States and New Zealand, expanded domestic market access through irradiation and contributed to international standards that guide phytosanitary work worldwide.
This work has helped open up markets for mangoes, avocados, lychees, stonefruit and citrus.
In accepting the award, Mr Leach said it was an honour to be awarded for years of work.
"It has been a team effort and I look forward to many more years of finding global and local solutions for fruit flies and crops," Mr Leach said.
Bayer head of customer marketing for the crop science division ANZ Tony May said it was estimated fruit fly costs the Australian industry $300m annually so any work that supports the control of the pest would deliver a material benefit for Australian fruit growers.
"On behalf of Bayer, I would like to congratulate Peter on his contribution to the sector's success," Mr May said.
"We have been partnering with Ausveg for more than a decade now and have a long-standing commitment to industry.
"This is a relationship we're very proud of and we welcome the opportunity to support innovation in the sector."
Ausveg chief executive officer Michael Coote said research and development was critical to the ongoing growth of the horticulture industry.
"We are fortunate to have world-leading researchers and scientists willing to engage with growers to understand their needs and issues," Mr Coote said.
"The Bayer Researcher of the Year Award recognises researchers who make a real impact on growers and their businesses."
"The ground-breaking market access research undertaken by Peter Leach and his team has contributed to international standards that guide phytosanitary work worldwide and enabled fruit exports from Australia. Annual fruit exports to protocol countries developed by Peter's team are now in the order of $110 million per year."
Mr Leach's reputation is acknowledged nationally and internationally through his membership of the Australian Fruit Fly Technical Advisory Committee, chairman of the International Plant Protection Convention Phytosanitary Measures Research Group and a member of the Technical Panel for Phytosanitary Treatments.
Award sponsor, Bayer an international life science company offering innovative products that serve the health of humans, plants and animals.
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