The Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal was awarded to Dr David Steven on Friday, recognising his work to fundamentally shift how the kiwifruit industry manages pests and disease, improving environmental outcomes and underscoring market confidence in Zespri Kiwifruit.
Kiwifruit Industry Advisory Committee chairman and Zespri director Paul Jones presented the medal at the gala dinner for the kiwifruit industry's Momentum conference, recognising the enormous impact of Dr Steven's lifetime of service to the kiwifruit industry as the industry celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Zespri brand.
"David developed the Integrated Pest Management programme, known as KiwiGreen, back in 1991 which fundamentally shifted how the kiwifruit industry manages diseases and pests, and changed the philosophy of agrichemical use forever.
It revolutionised horticulture around the world and 26 years later KiwiGreen still defines the way we use agrichemicals and manage our orchards.
It also moved the industry towards using more environmentally-friendly agrichemicals to target specific pests and diseases, resulting in greater biodiversity in the orchard," says Mr Jones.
Rigorous systems like this underpin the Zespri brand, which turns 20 tonight, with the promise of quality and safety in the market.
"David pioneered the idea of 'demonstrated need' 26 years ago through the KiwiGreen programme where orchardists would monitor their orchards and only use the agrichemicals they actually needed at that time and recording it, shifting from calendar spraying to a more low-impact philosophy. While this is now mainstream practice, the move away from calendar spraying was radical at the time and met with considerable resistance.
"Reducing agrichemical use saved more than money: it lowered the risk of residues on fruit, reduced environmental impacts and underpinned market confidence in our fruit," says Mr Jones.
KiwiGreen is now at the heart of the Zespri System, the systems and process which guarantee Zespri's consumers and customers premium quality, great tasting and healthy fruit.
"David has continued to lead and support Zespri and growers in this vital role for many years, retiring just last year. His was the familiar voice at the end of the KiwiGreen helpline, on hand to help growers solve problems on orchards around the country," says Mr Jones.
The Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal was presented by Takao Takeshige, president of Fresh Carriers, at the event.
"We at Fresh Carriers are proud to have partnered with the NZ kiwifruit industry for the past 30 years, delivering ever-increasing volumes of premium Zespri Kiwifruit to Japan, Korea and China.
"There are many people who have devoted their lives to building the success of this industry around the world. Fresh Carriers is delighted and proud to sponsor the Hayward Medal which recognises those who have made an outstanding contribution to the industry," says Mr Takeshige.