Agricultural Chief Scientist

Australia’s Agricultural Chief Scientist provides leadership and coordination to science activities in the Department of Agriculture.

As Chief Scientist, Dr Kim Ritman:

  • coordinates relationships with internal and external science stakeholders
  • works to strengthen the department’s scientific credibility and integrity
  • works to increase the department’s scientific capability
  • ensures that high-quality science remains an integral part of the evidence base used in departmental decision-making.

Strategic priorities for 2015–16

  • Providing leadership and coordination to science activities in the department.
  • Leading implementation of the department’s Science strategy 2013–2018.
  • Hosting the National Science Exchange Conference 2016.
  • Leading the department’s Australian delegation at the Meeting of Agricultural Chief Scientists (MACS) as part of the Group of Twenty (G20) international forum for cooperation on global economic governance annual meetings.
  • Leading the activities of the International Agricultural Research and Development Coordination Group.
  • Providing support and coordination to the CSIRO–Department of Agriculture Senior Executive Forum, as its relationship manager, and activities under the CSIRO–Department of Agriculture memorandum of understanding.
  • Being the champion for the department’s Science and Innovation Awards.
  • Chairing the steering committee for the Australian Pastures Genebank.

About Dr Kim Ritman

In July 2010, Dr Kim Ritman commenced as the department’s Chief Scientist.

Kim has led and managed science based policy advice for government in many areas, including fisheries, forestry, land use, biosecurity, feral animals and weeds, climate, water availability, salinity, agricultural biotechnology, spatial information and social sciences.

After obtaining a PhD in plant physiology, Kim specialised in satellite imagery and digital mapping. He has applied these technologies in the areas of forestry, crop forecasting, vegetation mapping and agriculture. He has commercial experience as a project manager in the IT sector, developing large defence geospatial projects and improving quality management systems. He has worked in Victorian and NSW state governments, as well as a short stint lecturing in computer science at Otago University in New Zealand.

Dr Ritman is also the Australian Chief Plant Protection Officer (ACPPO) and the two roles are well integrated.

About the MACS

The Meeting of the G20 Agricultural Chief Scientists (MACS) is an initiative that was endorsed by G20 Leaders under Mexico’s G20 presidency. In 2012, G20 Agriculture Vice Ministers supported:

'meetings of G20 Agricultural Chief Scientists (MACS) or high-level agricultural research officials from G20 member countries, other interested countries, and International Research Organizations such as CGIAR, with the goal of identifying global research priorities and targets, facilitating collaboration between public and private sector organisations in the key areas most likely to drive sustainable productivity gains, and tracking progress on established goals over time'.

Terms of Reference for the group were endorsed at the second MACS in Russia on 24–25 July 2013. The first two MACS considered agricultural research and food security issues, including:

  • the concept of a ‘new biology’ (biology that integrates knowledge from other fields such as physical sciences, mathematics, computational sciences and engineering)
  • knowledge management
  • global agricultural research and development (R&D) priorities and the role of
    • Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)
    • private research investment
    • Global Research Collaboration Platforms (GRCPs)
  • global agricultural productivity.