Manuel Boss: aim to a wholly sustainable agriculture and food sector

Manuel Boss

Manuel Boss took over the reins of the ‘Plants and Plant Products’ Competence Division on 1 June 2021. He brings his extensive network and his experience in science and agricultural policy with him to Agroscope.

Manuel Boss would like to focus on developing innovative approaches to expediting the transformation of the present-day agriculture and food sector into a thoroughly sustainable system, from production to food. According to Boss, it is only by reducing the many trade-offs that the major challenges facing the Swiss agriculture and food sector – climate change, loss of biodiversity, overuse of natural resources, feeding a growing population and maintaining competitiveness – can be met.

Although there is no tradition of farming in his family, there is no lack of fascination for scientific issues and contexts. Manuel Boss was born on 13 August 1986 in Port near Biel (Bienne), Switzerland; his mother was a biology and mathematics teacher, his father a doctor, whilst one of his two brothers studied chemistry and the other physiotherapy. As a child, he initially wanted to be a zookeeper, then changed his career ambition to biologist – provided that it involved animals, because at the time he found plants rather boring. “Because I knew nothing about them”, Boss explains, chuckling. His biology studies at the Universities of Bern and Freiburg radically changed this attitude. “That’s when I was bitten by the bug, and was especially taken with plant food production.”

Up till now, Manuel Boss has worked in Brussels as the Embassy Counsellor for Agriculture at the Swiss Mission. Prior to this, he worked at the Federal Office for Agriculture and at Syngenta in agricultural policy and in research and development. This wide-ranging experience, coupled with his network of contacts ranging from federal agencies to cantons and sectoral associations, all the way to the people responsible for agriculture and science in the EU, will serve him well in his capacity as the new Head of the ‘Plants and Plant Products’ Competence Division.

Manuel Boss describes himself as a person who tends to have too much energy rather than too little. In his spare time, he used to lead athletic group fitness training sessions, among other things. But COVID-19 put paid to that. “Now I do interval training at home, and apart from that I really enjoy spending time outdoors in nature” adds Boss, who prefers to go on walks and hikes to unwind from his workaday life. 

In his new role, Boss wants to place the focus on interrelationships and trade-offs, and continue to network, develop and raise the profile of his competence division. “I’d like to make the Division and its services indispensable: for the employees, for Agroscope, for the Swiss agricultural sector and the Swiss population” says Boss, summing up his goals. A networker by nature, he longs for post-pandemic times when direct contact is once again possible, allowing him to channel his verve and enthusiasm into implementing the vision of a wholly sustainable agriculture and food sector.