The Svalbard Global Seed Vault dubbed the world’s largest seed bank, now holds one million, fifty-nine thousand, six hundred and forty-six (1,059,646) unique crop varieties.
The Vault, also known as “doomsday vault” attained the score after receiving depositors from 23 seed banks around the world on Monday bearing more than seventy thousand (70,000) samples duplicate seeds of vital staples such as rice, wheat, maize, black-eyed pea, sorghum, pearl millet, pigeon pea, Estonian onion potato and the Bambara groundnut.
The vault is designed to safeguard the planet’s precious seed varieties against loss of crop diversity caused by either climate change, natural disasters or war.
Marie Haga is the Executive director of the Crop Trust, an international organization responsible for funding and managing a global system of seed collections. She narrates the significance of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault:
“The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is an iconic reminder of the remarkable conservation effort that is taking place every day, around the world and around the clock- an effort to conserve the seeds of our food crops. Safeguarding such a huge range of seeds means scientists will have the best chance of developing nutritious and climate-resilient crops that can ensure future generations don’t just survive but thrive.”
The vault, located on the side of a mountain on a remote Norwegian island, can store up to 4.5 million varieties of crops. Each variety contains an average of 500 seeds, amounting to a maximum capacity of 2.5 billion seeds.
Deliveries are made several times a year from countries that include the U.S., Australia, Burundi, Colombia, Germany, India, Japan, North Korea, Russia and many others.
Monday also marked the tenth anniversary of the Global Seed Vault.
Minister of Agriculture for the Norwegian government, Jon Georg Dale has this to say about the anniversary:
“The tenth anniversary is a major milestone for the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It comes at a time when agriculture is facing multiple challenges from extreme weather and the demands of a world population expected to reach 10 billion people by 2050. This means it is more important than ever to ensure that seeds- the foundation of our food supply and the future of our agriculture- are safely conserved.”
The Ministry of Agriculture for the Norwegian government jointly runs the facility with the Crop Trust and the Nordic Genetic Resources Center.
The vault suffered flooding last year after warmer-than-average temperatures caused a layer of permafrost to thaw. No seeds were damaged, but the Norwegian government is working to protect the vault against increasingly extreme weather.
It has announced its plans to spend thirteen million dollars ($13,000,000) on upgrades that will cover “construction of a new, concrete-built access tunnel, as well as a service building to house emergency power and refrigerating units and other electrical equipment that emits heat through the tunnel.