The Svalbard Global Seed Vault
Press Release

Svalbard Global Seed Vault Opens for First Deposit of 2022

  • 20,443 seed samples from 10 genebanks to be deposited
  • Largest deposit being made by ICARDA genebank, which withdrew seeds in 2015 during the Syrian civil war
  • More than 1.1 million seed samples of nearly 6,000 plant species already secured in the Seed Vault
  • Norwegian Minister of Agriculture and Food and Minister of International Development; Crop Trust Executive Director; NordGen Director; and staff from the Research Institute of Plant Production Piestany, Slovakia are attending

SVALBARD, Norway (13 February 2022) — 10 genebanks from around the globe are set to deposit their seeds in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault for safekeeping on February 14.

Participating dignitaries include Sandra Borch, Minister of Agriculture and Food, Norway; Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, Minister of International Development, Norway; Stefan Schmitz, Crop Trust Executive Director; Lise Lykke Steffensen, NordGen Executive Director; and representatives of the Research Institute of Plant Production Piestany, Slovakia.

The deposit will include seeds of crop species that were not previously represented in the Seed Vault. Among these are nearly 100 forage species from the Australian Pastures Genebank and 50 crop species from the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK), Germany. The IPK deposit includes samples of wheat collected in the Austrian Alpine region in the 1920s—one of the oldest collections at the genebank.

“We are always excited to receive new species into the Seed Vault,” said Sandra Borch, Minister of Agriculture and Food of Norway. “The future of the world’s food and nutrition security depends not only on the genetic diversity we have within the major food crops—but also on the diversity of crops that small scale farmers rely on.”

The largest deposit, of 6,336 seed samples, will be made by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) from its genebank in Morocco. This will bring their total holding in the Seed Vault to more than 100,000 seed samples, close to what it was before the Center withdrew seeds from the Seed Vault back in 2015, 2017 and 2019 to reestablish its genebank collection.

“The ICARDA story demonstrates perfectly the role and function of the Seed Vault,” said Norway’s Minister of International Development, Tvinnereim. “By safeguarding duplicates of these invaluable collections, the Seed Vault offers an insurance policy for our common future.”

The Seed Vault now hosts more than 1.1 million seed samples of nearly 6,000 plant species from 89 genebanks around the world—the world’s largest and most diverse collection of crop diversity.

“The Seed Vault underpins the global system of genebanks charged with making sure the crop diversity we need to adapt our agriculture is safe and available,” said the Crop Trust’s Schmitz. “Should anything happen to one of these genebanks, we know the Seed Vault holds copies of these invaluable materials. That is why we always rejoice when new diversity enters the Seed Vault.”

“I know how much hard work and dedication there is behind a deposit of seeds to the Seed Vault,” said NordGen’s Lykke Steffensen. “Therefore, all deposits, even the smallest ones, have our full attention from first contact until the boxes are resting on the shelves in the Seed Vault. Meeting genebank colleagues at the Seed Vault is always a day of happiness and celebrations. A day to remember for all of us.”

Accredited journalists are welcome to document the deposit. For further details and interview requests, please contact media officers from either the Crop Trust, NordGen or the Norwegian ministries (details below). For security reasons, only authorized staff are allowed inside the Seed Vault.

 

Participating Genebanks Country Seed Samples (Accessions) Boxes
The Australian Pastures Genebank (PIRSA-SARDI) Australia 6,242 5
Julius Kühn Institute (JKI) Germany 5 1
Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) Germany 4,715 8
International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) Morocco 6,336 15
Margot Forde Germplasm Centre (MFGC) New Zealand 234 1
The Nordic Genetic Resource Center (NordGen) Nordic countries 1,350 3
Suceava Genebank “Mihai Cristea” Romania 461 2
Research Institute of Plant Production, Piestany Slovakia 452 3
Agricultural Plant Genetic Resources Conservation and Research Centre (APGRC) Sudan 479 1
The Uganda National Genebank Uganda 169 1
Total 20,443 39

 

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is established and owned by Norway and operated in a partnership between the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food, NordGen (the Nordic countries’ genebank) and the Crop Trust. 

For further information, please contact: 

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