Crop Trust appoints Tim Fischer new executive board chair

Tim Fischer has been appointed executive board chair of the Crop Trust – an international organisation devoted to the conservation and availability of the world’s crop diversity.

The former Member for Farrer and Deputy Prime Minister – who has just arrived back in Australia after attending meetings at Crop Trust’s headquarters in Bonn, Germany, and Kigali, Rwanda – will start in the position from January.

Scientists were working closely with the Crop Trust to develop resilient seed stock.

“Riverina and North East Victoria farmers are better placed thanks to the work of the scientists and for the work from the Crop Trust,” he said.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which houses close to a million samples including seeds from the Riverina deposited by Mr Fischer, was the most visible activity of the Crop Trust.

“The main target is the ex-situ conservation of the seed plant diversity of the planet to ensure that essentially there is food for ever,” he said. 

Mr Fischer said China and India have lost 50 per cent of their live plant diversity during the past 100 years while the United States had also lost the majority of its fruit and vegetable plant diversity.

This is an investment in the future of the world’s plant diversity

Tim Fischer

“This is an investment in the future of the world’s plant diversity and the ability of the world's plant and food production to be nutritional and sustainable,” he said.​ 

The international board is currently chaired by Swiss diplomat Walter Fust.

“The Australian farmer has many challenges with the volatility of the weather, especially this year in the northern Riverina where there was potentially a snap spring drought. 

“This is why everyone is going to be looking for stronger and stronger varieties of wheat, oats, barley that can handle this increased volatility.”

Mr Fischer, who was now based at Mudgegonga, will chair board meetings twice a year and attend other international gatherings in the role. Crop Trust executive director Marie Haga said Mr Fischer’s commitment to conserving the world’s crops ensured the organisation would remain on the right path.

“During Tim’s tenure as vice-chairman of the Executive Board during 2013 to 2017 he demonstrated an unrelenting commitment to our mission: the conservation and use of the crop diversity,” Ms Haga said.