Agricultural Chief Scientist

The Chief Scientist, Dr Kim Ritman, provides leadership and coordination on departmental science activities and high level independent advice to senior executives and government on matters relating to science, technology and innovation.


As the department’s Chief Scientist, Dr Ritman has a scientific leadership role across the Department of Agriculture. The role includes:

  • 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.

Dr Ritman represents the Australian government in:

Strategic priorities for 2019–20

  • Provid e leadership and coordination to science activities in the department
  • Update the department’s Science Strategy
  • Lead implementation of the department’s Science Strategy Action Plan
  • Host the National Science Exchange Conference 2020
  • Leading the activities of the International Agricultural Research and Development Coordination Group
  • Provid e 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
  • Champion the department’s Science and Innovation Awards
  • Represent Australia in international forums e.g. 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.

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.

With 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 G20 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 total, eight G20 MACS meetings have been held in Mexico (2012), Russia (2013), Australia (2014), Turkey (2015), China (2016), Germany (2017), Argentina (2018) and Japan (2019).

Each G20 MACS meeting has a chair and specific focus. The eighth meeting held in Japan in 2019 considered science-based decision making as a foundation for advancing global food production, including:

  • A holistic view of the dynamic role of innovative agricultural research in economic and social development
  • Transboundary plant pest threat to food security and environment
  • Recognition of the importance of electronic phytosanitary certification (ePhyto) and support for its implementation by IPPC
  • Support for a workshop to share experiences of the latest climate-smart technologies and practices for sustainable agriculture
  • Support for the United Nations resolution on the International Year of Plant Health 2020.

National Science Exchange

The department's annual National Science Exchange conference is hosted by the Chief Scientist, Dr Kim Ritman. It allows effective dialogue and exchange between departmental and external scientists and is a catalyst for driving collaborative scientific partnerships.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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