ABGC announces retirement of long-serving CEO

Australian Banana Growers’ Council Chair Stephen Lowe today announced the retirement of Chief Executive Officer, Jim Pekin.

“Jim has been advocating for those who grow Australia’s favourite fruit for more than a decade.

“He was appointed in the role in the wake of Cyclone Yasi in 2011 and has worked tirelessly on behalf of commercial banana growers since.”

Mr Lowe noted that measures to ensure a smooth transition to a new CEO by November 2022 have been in place for some time, with the support from the ABGC Board and senior staff.

“Jim’s current employment contract was signed more than a year ago, to end in November 2022 and at that point Jim will have been in the CEO role 11 years.

“We have employed a recruitment agency who will advertise for a new CEO this week. This will ensure time for a new CEO to hit the ground running, with the support of the Board, Jim and other senior staff.”

Mr Lowe noted Mr Pekin will be sorely missed.

“I’ve seen first-hand the amount of time, passion and effort he has put into this industry behind the scenes.”

Mr Lowe said Mr Pekin has successfully represented industry – through strategy and advocacy – on all banana industry issues for a decade.

“He will leave behind a remarkable legacy, particularly his key role in the management of TR4 in Queensland and the eradication of Banana Freckle in the Northern Territory.

“He assisted the ABGC’s Board in the purchase of the first TR4 infested property in Queensland, to effectively contain and manage the spread of the disease.

“He then assisted in the development and implementation of an effective government-funded TR4 biosecurity program, that has helped protect industry from rapid spread of the disease since it was first detected in the Tully Valley in 2015.”

“Jim has consistently advocated for better outcomes for growers and has helped move towards a stronger, more sustainable future.”

Mr Lowe noted Mr Pekin will continue to run ABGC for the next 6 months to provide oversight and assistance on the range of industry development projects and services that ABGC delivers for industry.

Mr Pekin said that it had been a privilege to get to know, learn from and work with Board Members and other banana growers.

“Australian banana growers are world leaders at what they do, and I thank them for being so generous with their time, knowledge and friendliness.

“When I retire in November I will miss the banana industry, which I am very passionate about. It is such an incredibly vibrant industry. I will also miss the great staff that ABGC has and others that I have chewed over banana issues with!”

Mr Pekin’s career has spanned more than 40 years in agricultural industry development, both in the private and government sectors. In addition to his time at the ABGC, Mr Pekin has held senior roles with the Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Victorian Farmers Federation and the Rice Growers’ Association of Australia.