Meet the team - introducing Matt Dyck
01 June 2017
Before Matt joined KVH as a Biosecurity Analyst in 2013, he was working in the jungles of Northern Malaysia as an Environmental Manager for the country’s largest finfish aquaculture operation. A marine scientist by study, he now finds himself helping the kiwifruit industry prepare for the next big biosecurity threat, a transition that he says has been relatively smooth. “My role is largely about working with experts to understand the risk organisms place to our industry, our current state of preparedness and gaps we need to address through research and development. It’s great that kiwifruit growers recognise the importance of biosecurity and have a dedicated organisation like KVH to look after their interests”. Matt has recently completed the Readiness Plan for Brazilian Wilt (Ceratocystis fimbriata), a task completed in partnership with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to confirm a mutually agreed approach, peer-reviewed by a panel of experts. Brazilian Wilt is a fungal pathogen that is causing significant impacts to the kiwifruit industry in Brazil and Matt adds that while the readiness plan itself might not make for the most exciting reading, it sits amongst his most notable achievements while at KVH. “When KVH and Zespri staff first heard of Brazilian Wilt, it was just a few unsubstantiated claims that something was happening in another country without any details of the cause or potential controls. To get from that point of a limited understanding, to where we are now with a detailed plan summarising what we know, knowledge gaps that will be filled through research, and an agreed plan to how we will respond to incursions with MPI, is a real achievement and a testament to the industry for investing in being fully prepared for these threats”. “Even though we still have a lot to progress, we have an agreed plan with MPI to how we will increase our knowledge, and how we will respond, which will allow us to get straight into action for growers should an incursion occur”. Matt is already beginning to work on the next Readiness Plan which he aims to complete before the end of the year and is continually working with Zespri, MPI and the science community to learn about new offshore risks. “Planning at an industry level can only take us so far - it is also important that every grower manages biosecurity risk at their orchard boundary level, as this is the most effective way to reduce the impact of threats that may already be in New Zealand, undetected”. He refers to work completed as part of his Kellogg Rural Leadership project last year titled Avoiding complacency in kiwifruit biosecurity. KVH is working to build on the recommendations of this report to ensure that the industry learns from the Psa experience and implements the required practices to reduce the impact of our next big incursion. NEWSFLASH: Warm congratulations to Matt and his wife Donna who welcomed twins Georgia and Zara to their family on Monday, May 29. The team at KVH can’t wait to meet the new arrivals!