News story | Date: 26/08/2015
Delegations from Peru and Costa Rica will deposit potato seeds at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault this week. State Secretary Hanne Maren Blaafjelldal participates at the seed deposit together with, among others, Costa Rica's Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, mr Arauz Cavallini, and the Director-General of FAO, mr José Graziano da Silva.
State Secretary Hanne Maren Blaafjelldal will participate when delegations from Peru and from Costa Rica will deposit potato seeds at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault on Thursday August 27. Representatives from the Parque de la Papa (Potato Park) in Peru, ANDES, CATIE Costa Rica, as well as the Agriculture Department at the University of Costa Rica and the FAO Secretary-General will also be present. After visiting the seed vault, State Secretary Blaafjelldal will get briefings from FAO.
Valuable potato diversity
Potatoes are grown and consumed throughout the world, but no other region has as many different species as Peru, homeland of the potato.
Communities of the Quechua people have created a Potato Park, covering nearly 30 000 acres at heights spanning a range from 10 000 to 16400 feet ASL. The purpose of the Potato Park is to maintain cultivation of the hundreds of traditional potato varieties, and to keep the local knowledge of potato varieties alive. This diversity of varieties arose through generations of farmers actively cultivating and improving strains. Potatoes are critical to global food supply, and the world community is indebted to local farmers and indigenous peoples for the potato diversity that we all benefit from today. The delegation that will deposit potato seeds from the potato homeland in the global seed vault will thereby have secured an additional safeguard for the valuable genetic potato diversity, which could be crucial for future food production.
The Potato Park has received support from e.g. Fund For Profit-sharing under the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, to retrieve from the International Potato Gene Bank virus-free varieties that they had previously stopped growing, which, due to climate changes, now yield better crops. The Norwegian Ministry for of Agriculture and Food provides an annual contribution to this fund equal to 0.1 percent of the value of seed trade in Norway.
Svalbard Global Seed Vault is established and fully funded by the Norwegian government. The Ministry for Agriculture and Food is responsible for the vault. The Ministry cooperates with Nordic Gene Resource Centre and Global Crop Diversity Trust on the daily operations, and receives guidance from an international council established for this vault. The Commission on Genetic Resources of The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the FAO International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources are important international backers.