KVH Board welcomes new Associate Director

12 January 2017

KVH has this week welcomed Dr Sonia Whiteman as an Associate Board Director, replacing Lorry Leydon who sat on the Board for two years. We thank Lorry for his service and look forward to his reflections on his time with KVH in the next bulletin.

Sonia is the General Manager of Apata GROW - Apata's Orchard Management division. She has a technical background in horticulture including a Bachelor of Horticulture Science (with first class honours in plant protection) and a doctorate in plant diseases.

Sonia's career has spanned 20 years, moving from Academia into Commerce, with a focus on accessing innovative science to support the various agriculture sectors.

Biosecurity is a subject close to Sonia's heart, having been in technical roles supporting growers during two major incursions. The first was the 2006 tomato/potato psyllid incursion and the associated bacterial disease liberibacter, followed by Psa in kiwifruit in 2010. Both events emphasised to Sonia the importance of industry awareness of biosecurity threats to ensure preparedness and support early detection.

"The reality of the situation is that raising the profile of biosecurity is challenging. Growers find it difficult to turn their mind to something that isn’t happening, or hasn't happened yet, when there are so many things that need to be dealt with right now. However, a major pest incursion is, in my view, the greatest threat facing the future success of our industry, so we need to understand these threats and be ready to act decisively and effectively if or when they are realised".

Sonia is excited about the opportunity to work with the KVH Board and staff to help advance the kiwifruit industry’s state of readiness.