A LOCAL leader and innovative thinker has been awarded Horticulture Australia's Young Leader Award.
Robbie Commens, a 31-year-old Alstonville man was chosen for his dedication and commitment to the macadamia industry.
Mr Commens was up against people from more than 40 horticultural industries, making this award his finest achievement.
Mr Commens has been part of the macadamia industry for three years.
Australian Macadamia Society chief executive, Jolyon Burnett said Mr Commens was best known for his ability to bring industry members together.
When asked what this award meant to him, Mr Commens replied: "It's a major accomplishment, not only for me but for the macadamia industry - I haven't been able to wipe the smile off my face since."
Mr Commens has been part of a program that is helping to improve the research and development of this industry.
He has been working as a kind of translator from the growers to the scientists, making the improving program understandable for both sides.
The recent weather in the Northern Rivers has slowed the production of macadamias, but Mr Commens is optimistic about 2014.
The more than 400 growers in the Northern Rivers produce half the national macadamia crop worth $75 million a year.
Does he eat them? "Yes! My favourite are chai cinnamon macadamias or just raw ones," he said.