Dr. Jim Button, who retired as manager and director of TopFruit in South Africa in 2008, has received the new prestigious OHS Reinecke Industry Leader Award as presented by Dr. Shadrach Moephull, CEO of the Agriculture Research Council. The award is an amalgamation of the old Cape Pomological Association’s award presented between 1976 and 1999 and the current Frontrunner award that was annually presented by the Deciduous Fruit Industries and ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij.
As was the case with prof Reinecke, Dr. Jim Button had a fruitful career in agriculture stretching over 52 years starting in 1956. He was born on a farm in the Transvaal Highveld in 1942 and was schooled in White River and Johannesburg, obtaining all of his degrees from the University of Natal. Dr. Button started his lustrous career at the SA Citrus Exchange in Nelspruit and London and went on to lecture at the University of Natal in Plant Physiology and Horticulture. During this time he spent a year doing his sabbatical in Israel and Germany.
In 1978 he was appointed as the first General Manager of SAPO, resigning in 1985 to start Rosenhof Nursery and to join Topfruit as manager and director. During the period from 1985 to his retirement, Dr. Button served on:
- South African Apple and Pear Producers Association’s Board
- Deciduous Fruit Tree Nurserymen Association’s Board
- Deciduous Plant Improvement Board
- Unifruco Cultivar Development Committee
- Deciduous Fruit Strategic Planning Committee
- Cape Promological Association’s Board
- International Pink Lady Association
- Managing Director of the International Pink Lady Association
- Executive Director of Zaiger SA for the last 10 years.
As the award winner, Dr. Button received a desk paper holder engraved with his name and the name of the award sponsored by the industry along with a cash prize also sponsored by the industry. Dr. Button is praised for his contribution to agriculture in South Africa and from his CV there is no doubt that he is the first worthy receiver of the new award for 2011.