If you've wondered whatever happened to Tim Fisher (I know I have): he's been collecting his own crop seeds and personally took his deposits straight to the Doomsday vault.
Good for him.
|There's Tim Fisher|
It was a bone-chilling -15C in the Arctic Circle this week when Boree Creek’s most famous farmer, former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer, stood in the half-light on a frozen mountain and entrusted his farm’s wheat and oats seeds to the future of mankind.
Fischer’s favourite homegrown crops were among more than 10,000 different samples of Australian cereal, legume and pasture seeds deposited this week into the famous “Doomsday” global crop seed vault on the glacier and snow covered archipelago of Svalbard in Norway’s far north.
It was also the first time seeds from indigenous Australian native plants, distant wild relatives of modern food crops, had been “banked” for posterity in the underground, highly secure Svalbard seed vault.
The $9 million seed treasure trove, whose upkeep is part-funded by Australian grain growers, now holds and conserves 820,000 different types of crop seeds from around the globe left within its icy bowels since 2008.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault - built inside a permanently frozen mountain to withstand both a nuclear explosion and a meltdown of the polar icecaps - is essentially a modern-day Noah’s Ark for crop plants.
Its mission is to ensure that as many species and varieties of the crops and pasture grasses that feed the world are protected and preserved for eternity.
Besides protecting the world’s food sources from catastrophe, it also will eventually contain as many as 4.5 million different crop types and seeds - from potatoes and sorghum to wheat, beans and cassava - providing an unparalleled source of genetic biodiversity that may prove invaluable to plant breeders of the future.
Mr Fischer, who recently became vice-president of the Global Crop Diversity Trust that initiated the vault’s construction and part-funds its upkeep, said the depositing of the 14 sealed boxes containing unusual and rare Australian crop seeds was an emotional and historic day for him and Australia.
Now his campaign is to make sure the world knows more about the endeavour under wayon Svalbard - and helps finance a permanent $500 million endowment fund to keep the vault safe.
“What is happening inside this Svalbard vault is for the betterment of the world and goes to the very future of our food,” said Mr Fischer, clutching the blue plastic seed box with his best Boree Creek Ventura wheat and favourite Graza 50 oats seed packets sealed within. “While I am greatly privileged that in box No 10 being deposited in the vault are seeds from my own farm, they are just a tiny part of the 10,000 seeds from the Australian grains, oilseeds and pasture gene banks being left here today. We have made them safe and that is what this Svalbard vault is all about; guaranteeing the future food security of the world.”
The small town on the frozen seafront just below the vault is Longyearbyen, the most northern permanent settlement in the world at 78 degrees latitude.
Sue Neales travelled to the Svalbard seed vault this week with the assistance of the Crawford Fund for International Agricultural Research.
The Weekend Australian March 1-2 2014