A Vernon man with deep commitments to the Okanagan’s fruit growing industry has died.
Jeet Dukhia passed away from lung cancer complications at age 74 Dec. 14.
Dukhia was the vice-president of the B.C. Fruit Growers Association. He made history with the organization in 2013 by becoming the first BCFGA president from Vernon in the then-124-year history of the organization.
“I feel very good about this but I represent the entire Okanagan,” said Dukhia of his 2013 election in a Morning Star interview. “I feel pretty positive about the industry. I am very optimistic when I see the new plantings.”
He was re-elected president in 2021.
Dukhia had 42 acres in Vernon’s BX region, growing different apple varieties and cherries, starting in the late 1970s.
He was also chair of the board of the BC Tree Fruits. Dukhia represented the industry as a board member former chair of the BC Tree Fruit Coop and at the national level as a board member of the Canadian Horticulture Council.
Former BCFGA president Fred Steele and Dukhia were political rivals but shared a mutual respect for one another.
“Jeet devoted decades of advocacy on behalf of fruit growers. While it’s true Jeet and I competed for our place at the decision-making table it was never personal,” said Steele. “Our vigorous campaigns enhanced the interest and participation of the membership as a whole. At the sad end of his journey his friends and family and members of the tree fruit industry can take solace in the fact Jeet made a difference.
“His influence will remain in the halls of history and the future for generations to come.”