A longtime water district manager and a leading agricultural technology company were honored Tuesday for their contributions to the farming industry.
Garry Serrato, general manager of the Fresno Irrigation District, was named the 2018 Agriculturist of the Year by the Fresno Chamber of Commerce and Agrian Inc. of Clovis received the 2018 Ag Business Award by Baker Peterson Franklin.
The annual awards were announced on the grounds of Fresno State’s Viticulture and Enology Building.
As a tech company, Agrian has grown from a tiny office in an underground parking garage with just a handful of workers to an international company with 145 employees in Clovis, Armenia and Nepal.
Nish Majarian, chief executive officer of Agrian, said he knew early on in his career that providing technological tools to farmers was the right move. His company has created software to help farmers track what they apply to their soil, including fertilizers, pesticides and water. Agrian also collects data from the field to help farmers make better decisions on how to grow crops.
“In modern farming these days, it is about doing more with less,” Majarian said. “How do you create higher yields with fewer inputs?”
Majarian forsees a greater emphasis on the use of automation in agriculture as farming’s labor pool continues to dry up.
“We will see more automation, more robotics, and all of those new capacities will need a brain to tell them where to go and what to do,” Majarian said. “And we want to be part of that brain that will drive automation in ag.”
As the general manager of Fresno Irrigation District, Serrato has risen up through the ranks of the agency, having been watermaster and assistant manager operations. He joined the district in 1986.
The district is made up of 245,000 acres of farmland and urban areas within Fresno County, supplying water to the growing cities of Fresno and Clovis.
Deeply knowledgeable about local, valley, and state-wide water issues, Serrato is also active in the Kings River Water Association, Upper Kings River Water Forum, Fresno County Water Committee, and Friant Water Authority.
“I am humbled and honored to receive this award today,” Serrato said. “In all my years of being associated with the irrigation district, water policy has changed dramatically. “
Serrato, who has also served on the Fowler City Council, said one of the things he is most proud of is being able to come up with solutions for the district’s water users. The region has struggled through several droughts that have called for some drastic measures and innovative solutions.
“Water is our most valuable resource, and to be able to put together solutions has been very satisfying,” Serrato said.
The award recipients will be honored at the Fresno Chamber’s Agriculture Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at the Fresno Convention Center, New Exhibit Hall. Tickets for the event are available on the chamber website at www.fresnochamber.com.