Successful seed deposit despite the pandemic

In the midst of the ongoing global pandemic, gene banks are sending backup copies of their seeds to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. This week, around 15,000 new bags of seeds from eight gene banks were safely placed on the shelves in the seed vault.

- It is impressive that gene banks are able to maintain their activity under difficult circumstances. The pandemic emphasizes how important it is to work long-term to improve food security, says Minister of Agriculture and Food Olaug Bollestad.

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This last week of October 2020, eight gene banks sent 45 boxes with almost 15,000 seed bags to Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
This last week of October 2020, eight gene banks sent 45 boxes with almost 15,000 seed bags to Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The eight gene banks are from South Korea, Zambia, Côtes d'Ivoire, Nigeria, Poland, Kenya and two from Thailand. Credit: NordGen

The Seed Vault has been established by Norway as a contribution to the global efforts to preserve biological diversity in agriculture. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food is responsible for the facility, which is operated together with NordGen and CropTrust. Due to travel restrictions, only NordGen staff already on Svalbard handled the reception of the new seed shipment. The seed vault receives seeds three to four times a year. This time, the following gene banks contributed:

  1. Rice Biodiversity Center for Africa, Côtes d'Ivoire
  2. National Rice Seed Storage Laboratory for Genetic Resources, Thailand
  3. Chaipattana Foundation, Thailand
  4. SADC Plant Genetic Resources Center (SPGRC), Zambia
  5. The Plant Breeding and Acclimatization Institute (IHAR), Poland
  6. International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Nigeria
  7. National Agrobiodiversity Center, South Korea.
  8. World Agroforestry Center, Kenya.
The largest deposit since the 2008 opening of the seed vault took place on 25 February 2020.
The largest deposit since the 2008 opening of the seed vault took place on 25 February 2020. 36 gene banks from all continents then sent seeds for storage in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, on a deposit day organized by the Prime Minister and the head of the UN SDG advocates for sustainability goals, Erna Solberg and Minister of Agriculture and Food Olaug Bollestad. Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo who is the Co-chair and other members of the SDG advocates group also attended the event. Credit: Svalbard Global Seed Vault / Ragnhild Utne