The Victorian Coalition Government has committed more than $3 million to establish a national seed bank in Horsham, western Victoria, that has been 15 years in the making.
Through a partnership between the Victorian Government and the Grains Research and Development Corporation, the Australian Grains Genebank will consolidate tropical and temperate climate cereal, grain legume and oil seed collections currently held in multiple facilities throughout Australia.
In Horsham today Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh said the Genebank would benefit grain producers, processors, marketers, breeders and regional Victorians.
Mr Walsh said discussions around the creation of a national genetic resource system had been ongoing for the past 15 years.
“The future of Australian agriculture depends on the genetic resources in the nation’s seed banks and this national Genebank will hold more than 180,000 samples from Australia and around the world,” Mr Walsh said.
“Australian plant breeders can access the genetic material and associated international knowledge necessary to produce superior varieties for our grain growers.
“These resources will underpin crop improvements and enable producers to remain productive, competitive and profitable in future environments and markets.
“Grain growers can also capitalise on new market opportunities based on growing demand for grains, as well as respond to any emerging environmental and climate challenges and pest and disease outbreaks.”
The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and GRDC will each invest up to $2.85 million into new Genebank facilities, glass houses and infrastructure upgrades at Horsham.
GRDC and DPI will also each commit up to $600,000 in the annual operating costs for five years to expand the Horsham Grain Innovation Park into a contemporary world-class National Plant Genetic Resource Centre.
GRDC chairman Mr Keith Perrett said germplasm availability was of critical importance to Australian researchers and breeders.
“Australia is a net importer of the genetic diversity required to develop improved grain varieties. This centre is also an important resource for international researchers and plant breeders including those from developing countries,” Mr Perrett said.
Agreement was finally reached to establish an Australian Grains Genebank during the process of developing the Grains Industry National Research Development and Extension Strategy.
Mr Walsh said he was pleased GRDC and Victoria led this initiative to ensure Australia’s network of seed bank centres would be more financially secure and strategically managed so that all of the collections could be conserved.
The facility will operate as part of a global system of genebanks supporting Australia’s obligations as a signatory to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.