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Dr. Eugenia Banks wins OFVGA Award of Merit

Eugenia Banks
Dr. Banks accepts the Award of Merit from Jason Verkaik, OFVGA Chair

The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA) was pleased to accept the nomination of Dr. Eugenia Banks for the 2016 Award of Merit, presented to Dr. Banks at the OFVGA Annual General Meeting in January.

Dr. Banks hails from Santiago, Chile where she completed her Bachelor of Science Degree at the University of Chile. She studied further at the University of Guelph where she completed her masters and PhD. Her connection to the potato industry started in 1990, when she began working for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) as a Potato Specialist.

In those years, Dr. Banks made herself available to growers whenever needed, tirelessly identifying problems with unique solutions. Her first battle was against the Colorado Potato Beetle, which was resistant to all pesticides that were registered to control it. For five years, Dr. Banks and potato growers would use propane flamers, vacuums, and plastic line trenches to control the pest into control by 1995. What started as very little knowledge of the potato industry grew exponentially over the years with dedication, commitment, and a desire to learn. Today, Dr. Banks is a respected potato expert. Her most successful endeavours include the evaluation of new potato varieties through practical field trials, tackling the aggressive strain of late blight that originally caused the Irish Famine, scout training days, and the Ontario Potato Conference held annually.

“It is candidates like Dr. Banks who show that innovation is alive, well, and thriving in the horticultural industry and to agriculture as a whole,” Jason Verkaik, the 2016 Chair of OFVGA says. “The sort of passion it takes to turn one vegetable into an entire career is one that should be rewarded.”

“We are very happy to congratulate Eugenia on being this year’s recipient of the Award of Merit,” Don Brubacher of the Ontario Potato Board adds. “It has been a privilege to work with her over the past 25 years and we wish her well in whatever she does in the future. We know she will continue to work with potatoes in some capacity. That is her passion!”

“Each year brought new challenges, but by working together we got positive results,” Dr. Banks says of her work with farmers. “Ontario potato growers are knowledgeable, innovative, hard working, and resilient. I will share this award with them.”