The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) has recognized the year 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables. This was also mentioned at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The first seed deposits of this year have been done. They are seeds of strawberry, watermelon, and pumpkin.
The February seed deposit features seeds of other crops too. These are from gene banks of South Asia, Europe, and Africa.
In total, around 6,500 seed samples were deposited at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault from 5 gene banks.
These banks are:
- Seed bank at ICRISAT (International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics) in India
- SADC Plant Genetic Resources Center in Zambia
- AfricaRice in Cote d’Ivoire
- JKI (Julius Kuhn Institute) in Germany
- National Genebank in Mali
For the last 13 years, the Seed Vault has been safeguarding 1 million+ seed samples deposited by about 90 gene banks.
The National Genebank of Mali deposited total 3446 seed samples, which primarily featured seeds of sorghum – a crucial crop of this region.
About the Seed Vault
The Svalboard Global Seed Vault opened in the year 2008. This was a backup for various gene banks of the world to preserve duplicates of crops. In case a gene bank becomes inaccessible due to some war or climatic disaster or gets destroyed due to natural calamity, accident, or insufficient funds, the duplicate seeds will still be there at the Seed Vault. So, the crop won’t get extinct. The depositor can retrieve seeds from the Vault and grow crops again.
This is a fine way to preserve crop diversity and prevent genetic erosion.
However, you cannot store seeds of all crops in this Seed Vault. There are so many crops that have no seeds. Besides, certain seeds cannot endure freezing storage temperatures or drying method of storage. Most of the tropical fruits are like this. Such seeds need other techniques of preservation.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is the biggest crop diversity collection of the world so far. It is designed to stand the test of time.
The Seed Vault will open next in May and then in October this year.