NordGens Fredrik Olsson ensures that the new boxes from ICARDA, containing seeds produced last year at ICARDA units in Lebanon and Morocco are well back in the Seed Vault. Photo: NordGen
Seed accessions from ICARDA that were taken out in September 2015 are back in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. On February 22nd, new fresh seeds multiplied at ICARDA units in Morocco and Lebanon were re-deposited, as were seeds from nine other gene banks
In 2015, ICARDA became the first gene bank to request the withdrawal of seeds from the security seed depository in Svalbard as the war in Syria made the Aleppo gene bank inaccessible. A total of 38,073 seed samples were returned from Svalbard and immediately sown. During the summer of 2016, fresh seeds of a number of cereal and legume species were harvested for the re-establishment of gene bank functions in Morocco and Lebanon. At the same time, seeds were prepared and packed for a second back-up deposit in Svalbard.
A delegation from ICARDA, led by Chair Margret Thalwitz and Director General Aly Abousabaa accompanied NordGen staff when 15,160 plant varieties and other genotypes were re-deposited in the Seed Vault on Wednesday the 22nd of February. Ms. Thalwitz and Mr. Abousabaa underlined the significance of the Seed Vault as a security depository for plant genetic resources and future food security. They also expressed their gratitude to Norway, CropTrust and NordGen for good cooperation.
First UK deposit
Later during the same week, seeds from nine other gene banks were deposited in the Seed Vault, among those two institutes depositing seeds for the first time. The National Gene Bank in Belarus deposited seeds from wheat and barley, while Gaynor McKenzie and Jane Robertson from the James Hutton Institute in Scotland delivered in personae a selection of potato seeds from their Commonwealth Potato Collection in the Vault. This marked the first seed deposit to the Seed Vault from a UK based gene bank.
Seven other gene banks had previously deposited seeds and shipped additional seed samples at this occasion. CIMMYT, the International Research Centre for Maize and Wheat in Mexico, shipped nearly 28,000 seed samples, and is now, with a total of more than 158,000 deposited seed accessions, the largest Seed Vault depositor, by seed sample numbers. The other gene banks to deposit seeds at this occasion are located in India, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Benin and USA.
Expecting more seeds from India
The seeds from the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources in India were taken into the Seed Vault by Dr. Rajesh Kumar Singh and Dr. Jeet Singh Sandhu from the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare in India. They indicated that the 200 accessions that were brought into the Seed Vault at this occasion were the starting point on a major scheme for shipping about 26,000 seed samples from NBPGR to Svalbard in the near future.
After the seed deposit in February 2017, the seed collection in The Svalbard Global Seed Vault comprise 930,591 seed samples, sent by 73 depositor gene banks and institutes. Detailed information about seeds in the Vault and about who sent them can be found on this webpage.