Hawkes Bay, NZ
CATEGORY: SUSTAINABILITY (ADVISER)
Decades of work in reducing both the amount and toxicity of pesticides used in apple production has been a lifelong passion for Jim Walker.
The New Zealand-based researcher has been largely responsible for the introduction and adoption of Integrated Fruit Production (IFP), and has helped growers adopt practices which see pesticide residue levels only a fraction of international residue tolerances.
So accepted was his work with apples, that it has now been adopted in citrus, wine grapes and summer fruits in New Zealand.
The introduction of the IFP program introduced many important benefits to New Zealand apple growers supplying fruit to global markets.
It also helped to put New Zealand apples at the leading edge of increasing international demand for “residue-free” fruit production.
“Most of the projects that I have undertaken have significantly changed pest management,” he says.
“I enjoy working in participatory implementation projects, working directly with growers in discussion groups leading change, evaluating implementation issues and developing shared solutions.”
He says he was fortunate to work in a country where growers were prepared to trial and then uptake different management measures, knowing their livelihoods depended on it given the reliance on exports.
“No other country is so reliant on the export of fresh produce to international markets as New Zealand,” Jim says.
“Consequently, the industry has to be highly innovative to stay ahead of international mega trends, sustainability, water use, food safety and competition from lower cost producers.”