Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh today turned the first sod to mark the beginning of construction works on a national seed bank in Horsham.
Mr Walsh said the start of work on the Australian Grains Genebank was the culmination of 15 years of discussion among governments and industry groups.
“The centre will ensure vital plant genetics are preserved and available to breeders into the future,” Mr Walsh said.
“Genetic material is vital for our productive agricultural future and this national collection of pulse, cereal, oilseed and tropical seeds will include more than 180,000 samples from Australia and around the world.
“Thanks to this new facility, plant breeders from throughout Australia and the world will have access to genetic material and associated international knowledge necessary to produce superior varieties for our grain growers.”
The Victorian Coalition Government has committed $3 million towards establishing the facility, which will be matched with funds from the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).
The Genebank will consolidate Horsham’s existing Temperate Field Crops Collection of oilseeds and pulses with two other tropical and temperate climate cereal collections currently held in Queensland and New South Wales.
“For example, pulse seeds collected from the Middle East might hold the key to creating new drought, pest or disease tolerant varieties for Australia’s cropping future. Genebanks such as this are a vital store of potentially game-changing genetics,” Mr Walsh said.
“It is very pleasing that GRDC and Victoria have led this initiative, to ensure Australia’s seed bank centres would be more financially secure and strategically managed so that all of the collections could be conserved.”
GRDC chairman Keith Perrett said the Genebank was more than just a unique and valuable facility for storing vital genetic material.
“It will be very much a functional facility where experts will be actively responsible for the acquisition, conservation, characterisation and distribution of grain crop genetic resources,” Mr Perrett said.
“The seed and associated data will be of enormous benefit for breeding programs which will be much better equipped to select specific traits for developing more resilient and productive varieties of grain crops.”
On top of their funding commitments of $3 million each to establish the Genebank, the Coalition Government and GRDC will also each commit up to $600,000 in the annual operating costs for five years to grow Horsham’s Grain Innovation Park into a contemporary world-class National Plant Genetic Resource Centre.
W.M. Flynn Pty. Ltd., of Ballarat, has been contracted to build the Genebank, which is due to be completed by November this year.
Extract from Media Release, Premier of Victoria's office 24th May, 2013.