VICTORIAN agriculture minister Peter Walsh will visit Horsham today to announce more than $3 million to establish a national seed bank.The 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.
"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 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.