September 16, 2020
It is with great sadness that we share the news of the recent passing of Dr Kim Ritman, Australia’s Chief Plant Protection Officer and Chief Scientist at the Department of Agriculture Water and the Environment.
Kim had a close association with the Fund. He was a regular conference attendee and invited the Fund to assist with the Group of Twenty (G20) Meeting of Agricultural Scientists (G20 MACS) meeting when it was held in Australia in 2014. After chairing a session at our 2017 conference, he accepted an invitation to be the first representative of the Department of Agriculture on the Fund’s conference organising committee for our 2018 event. He was a very active and valued member. His travel commitments meant he was unable to sit on the committee for the 2019 event, but he requested that he remain copied in on correspondence and remained connected for 2019.
As chair of the Australian organising committee the 2020 International Year of Plant Health, Kim approached the Fund to have our 2020 (now 2021) conference associated with plant health and the board and conference committee accepted the suggestion. We can thank Kim for our topic ““Food & Nutrition Security – The Biosecurity, Health, Trade Nexus” for the next event. The Fund will be recognising Kim’s contribution at the 2021 event.
Board Member, Dr Tony Gregson, and our Director of Outreach, Cathy Reade, have fond memories of accompanying Kim to deposit Australian seed in the Svalbard Arctic Seed Vault in 2018. He is pictured below (from L to R) with Steve Hughes who runs the Australian Pastures Genebank, Sally Norton who leads the Australian Grains Genebank, Professor German Spangenberg who heads Agriculture Victoria Research, Cathy and Tony, inside the vault in February 2018.
Kim’s distinguished career spanned many years in the Australian Government. In 2002, he commenced with the Bureau of Rural Sciences and it was while at BRS that our CEO, Dr Colin Chartres first met Kim.
We are pleased to note that the Department has added to the annual Australian Biosecurity Awards the Dr Kim Ritman Award for Science and Innovation in honour of Kim’s contributions as Australia’s Chief Plant Protection Officer, to recognise innovation in biosecurity across industry, government and the community.
Kim’s contributions were cut short in 2019 following a serious motor vehicle accident from which, after a long and brave battle, he unfortunately did not recover. We offer Kim’s family our most sincere and deepest condolences. Colin, Cathy and Tony attended Kim’s funeral on 15 September.