Historical archive

Svalbard Global Seed Vault: The seeds of the world are on their way

Historical archive

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of Agriculture and Food

Svalbard Global Seed Vault: The Svalbard Global Seed Vault will open on 26 February. The facility will house seed samples of food plants from absolutely the entire world. And the seeds are on their way, from Colombia, Mexico, Canada, the Philippines, Syria, Nigeria, Pakistan, Kenya and many other countries.

 

Logo Svalbard Globale Seed Vault

Svalbard Global Seed Vault: The seeds are on their way


Svalbard Global Seed Vault: The Svalbard Global Seed Vault will open on 26 February. The facility will house seed samples of food plants from absolutely the entire world. And the seeds are on their way, from Colombia, Mexico, Canada, the Philippines, Syria, Nigeria, Pakistan, Kenya and many other countries.

“The shipments of the seeds are developing as planned,” says Ola Westengen, operation manager of NordGen/Svalbard Global Seed Vault. In cooperation with Global Crop Diversity Trust he is ensuring that the seeds of the world arrive safely in Svalbard over the course of the next two weeks. So far he is sleeping soundly at night. The seeds are en route from every corner of the world, shipped by land, water and air.

70,000 varieties of rice
The seeds come from every corner of the world:

  • We are getting several thousand potato seeds from CIP, the seed bank in Lima, Peru
  • 30,000 samples of different beans, plus a number of grass species are en route from CIAT in Colombia
  • CIMMYT in Mexico is shipping 47,000 seed samples of wheat and 10,000 types of maize
  • The seed banks in North America and Canada are each shipping several thousands samples of a large number of cultivars
  • From Europe seeds are coming in from the Netherlands and Germany  
  • 30,000 seed samples of mostly barley and wheat are coming from the region usually regarded as the cradle of agriculture, namely the Middle East. 
  • Despite of all the conflicts going on in those countries, seeds from Kenya and Pakistan will be there for the opening. 
  • The biggest contributor of all is IRRI in the Philippines. They are shipping 70,000 (!) different varieties of rice from 120 different countries

In total, seeds from almost every country in the world will arrive in Svalbard before the opening.

Great enthusiasm
“We have achieved very good collaboration with all of the seed banks that are sending seeds to Svalbard. Enthusiasm for the project is great everywhere in the world. There may be a number of practical obstacles preventing some of the seed shipments from reaching the opening on 26 February, but none of those asked have answered no,” says Westengen.

4.5 million seed samples
Svalbard Global Seed Vault consists of three enormous caverns blasted 130 metres into the permafrost outside of Longyearbyen. The facility is designed to store duplicates of seeds from every corner of the world. With the capacity to store up to 4.5 million seed samples, the vault will eventually house seeds of virtually all important food plants in the world. If seeds are lost, e.g. as a result of natural disasters, war or simply a lack of resources, the seed collections may be re-established using seeds from Svalbard. The seed vault is owned by Norway, which has also funded the entire project costing nearly NOK 50 million.

More information
Operation Manager Ola Westengen, tel. + 47 90 94 27 85, ola.westengen@nordgen.org
Communications Manager Ole G. Hertzenberg, tel. +47 90 10 04 42, ole.g.hertzenberg@faktotum.no

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