Article by: Hari Yellina
Peter Leach has been named the 2022 Bayer Researcher of the Year for waging a protracted battle against the Queensland fruit fly. At the Hort Connections 2022 conference in Brisbane last month, Mr. Leach, chief entomologist and team leader of the market access focus team at the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, received recognition for his career. The national award honours a researcher who has a history of conducting research or extension work that has benefited the industry long-term, actively shares research findings and promotes application of findings on farms, and contributes to research or extension work that enhances the stature of Australian science abroad.
For more than 25 years, Mr. Leach has been in charge of a sizable portfolio of fruit fly disinfestation initiatives aimed at national market access. Along with this research team, Mr. Leach has contributed to international standards that direct phytosanitary work globally and provided data for the successful negotiation of commercially viable new market access protocols for a number of crops in Asia, the US, and New Zealand. He has also expanded domestic market access through irradiation. Markets for citrus, lychees, stonefruit, mangoes, and avocados have been expanded because to this study. Mr. Leach said it was an honour to receive recognition for years of work while accepting the prize. Finding global and local solutions for fruit flies and other pests has been a team effort, and I anticipate many more years of doing so,” Mr Leach said.
According to Bayer’s Tony May, head of customer marketing for the agricultural science division in ANZ, fruit flies are expected to cost the Australian industry $300 million annually, therefore any activity that aids the pest’s eradication will materially benefit Australian fruit growers. Peter has made a significant contribution to the prosperity of the industry, and I would want to thank him on behalf of Bayer, Mr. May added. “We have a long-standing commitment to industry and have been working with Ausveg for more than ten years. We are quite proud of this partnership and appreciate the chance to encourage innovation in the industry.
According to Michael Coote, chief executive officer of Ausveg, research and development are essential to the horticulture sector’s continued expansion. We are fortunate to have top-tier experts and scientists who are open to speaking with producers to learn about their needs and problems, according to Mr. Coote. The Bayer Researcher of the Year Award honours scientists who have a significant positive influence on farmers and their companies. “Peter Leach and his team’s groundbreaking market access research made it possible for Australia to export fruit while also influencing international norms that govern phytosanitary work everywhere. The amount of fruit exported annually to protocol nations established by Peter’s team is now in the neighbourhood of $110 million.”
Through his participation in the Australian Fruit Fly Technical Advisory Committee, as chairman of the International Plant Protection Convention Phytosanitary Measures Research Group, and as a member of the Technical Panel for Phytosanitary Treatments, Mr. Leach’s reputation is recognised both domestically and abroad. Bayer, a worldwide life science firm that provides cutting-edge solutions to support the health of people, plants, and animals, is the sponsor of the award.