The Global Seed Vault on Norway’s remote island of Svalbard received seeds from an institute in Ghana on Wednesday. This contribution made the institute the 100th depositor, underscoring the vault’s pivotal role in preserving the genetic diversity of major global food crops.
Established in 2008, the vault’s primary mission is to safeguard the genetic diversity of the world’s food plants. It aims to ensure the survival of agricultural and industrial crops against threats like war, terrorism and natural calamities.
The latest contribution came from the Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-PGRRI) of Ghana. The deposit encompasses essential crops like maize, rice, eggplant and cowpea, which are pillars of Ghana’s food security, health and culinary traditions.
“This, our very first safety backup, provides a sense of relief that our collections of crop diversity are on the path to being secured in perpetuity for the benefit of all humanity. The backup also highlights the hard work of the current and past staff members of the Ghana gene bank and the farmers from whom the seeds were originally collected,” Daniel Kotey, senior research scientist at CSIR-PGRRI, said at the deposit ceremony.
This October, in addition to the Ghanaian contribution, gene banks from Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia are also sending backups from their collections. Seeds have also arrived from Uruguay, Thailand, Colombia, Portugal, the United States, Albania, India, Germany and the Czech Republic.
With over 1.2 million seed samples, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault stands as the world’s largest single-site collection of crop diversity.
With a capacity to hold up to 4.5 million distinct seed varieties, the vault can accommodate duplicates of every unique seed variant stored in global gene banks, as well as any new types procured in the future.