Seed World

Svalbard Global Seed Vault Welcomes New Additions

Photo Credit: Svalbard Global Seed Vault/Riccardo Gangale.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault continues to expand with two new genebanks and a shipment from WorldVeg that includes varieties of rice bean, lablab and yard-long bean from two Indigenous communities.

Eleven genebanks from across the globe deposited 97 boxes holding a total of 19,391 seed samples, bringing the total number of seed samples in the Seed Vault to 1,165,253, according to a news release from Crop Trust. Genebanks from Bosnia, Herzegovina, Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire, Lebanon, Lithuania, Peru, Poland, Spain, Taiwan, Uganda and the U.S. participated in the global event.

“It is always a joy to see new genebanks joining the Svalbard family,” said Stefan Schmitz, executive director of the Crop Trust. “The whole of humanity relies on the genetic diversity of crops maintained in farmers’ fields and in the world’s genebanks, and the Seed Vault is the last line of defense against the loss of that diversity.”

Lithuania and Spain Make Their First Deposit

The event marks the first time the national genebanks of Lithuania and Spain deposited seeds in the Vault.

Lithuania deposited 123 seed samples of 28 varying species such as cereals, vegetables and forage plants.

“We are delighted to be safeguarding this genetic heritage in the Seed Vault,” said Danas Augutis, Lithuania’s vice minister of environment. “Our farmers and breeders have developed crops and forages for a wide range of conditions, including hot summer days and cold nights, and this is reflected in the seeds we are depositing today. This will, I hope, be the first of many such deposits.”

Spain’s deposit contained 979 seed samples of 102 species of primarily cereals and vegetables with 111 samples of maize and 60 tomato samples.

“The crop diversity in these boxes is an invaluable source of diversity in the efforts to adapt crops to rapidly changing climatic conditions,” said Luis Guasch, director of the Spanish Plant Genetic Resources National Center. “These seeds are part of our collective human heritage, which must be tackled by us all, and this is our first contribution.”

WorldVeg Works with Indigenous Communities to Deposit Seeds

The World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg) made the largest single deposit- 11,113 samples of 60 species. Two Indigenous communities worked with WorldVeg to deposit local varieties such as rice bean, lablab and yard-long bean

“The 2022 shipment includes a large number of seed samples of vegetable and grain soybean for which WorldVeg maintains a global collection,” shared Andrew Chan, information specialist of the WorldVeg Genebank. “In terms of volume and weight, this is our largest shipment to Svalbard so far. We now have 63 percent of our collection backed up in Svalbard and are on track to have our whole collection safety duplicated there by 2025.”

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