Feature Story    |   Seed Vault   

The wheels on the wagon carrying the boxes with seeds rolls steadily on the frozen ground. Fredrik Olsson and Åsmund Asdal navigates skilfully through the narrow door and on the frozen floor. They’ve done this many times before. Åsmund Asdal is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault Coordinator and Fredrik Olsson has been here many times before to help out with the deposits.

“Today it was fairly easy. Usually, we put in many more boxes at once,” says Fredrik Olsson, who normally is the team coordinator for field and green houses at NordGen.

But this time it is somewhat special. When the wagon has entered the last frosted door, Fredrik Olsson puts the NordGen boxes in place. Boxes with seeds he himself has been cultivating.

“Some of these plants have I grown during two years. I’ve sown in the fall or winter and after that taken care of them for the whole season, sometimes two seasons,” he says.

Seeds from all over the world

Svalbard Global Seed Vault was built and fully financed by the Norwegian state. It is today run by a three-party agreement between the Norwegian state, the Global Crop Diversity Trust and NordGen where Norway and Crop trust is responsible for the larger part of the financing, whereas NordGen is managing the Global Seed Vault.

This means that NordGen handles seeds sent from all over the world. Today, however, NordGen also put their own seeds, 2 437 accessions, into the Global Seed Vault.

“To me it is intense to be able to be here and seeing it turn full circle. I have right now contributed to that these accessions are preserved for many years to come,” Fredrik Olsson says.

The majority of the seeds deposited by NordGen is barley.

Boxes also sent from Colombia and Peru

Except NordGen, two other gene banks have chosen to deposit seeds at this time. International Centre for Tropical Agriculture, CIAT, sent seeds from Colombia and International Potato Centre, CIP, from Peru.

“CIAT mainly deposited different kinds of beans and forages. CIP foremost work with different kinds of tubers and put in accessions originating from 15 different countries,” Åsmund Asdal, seed vault coordinator says.

NordGen deposited four boxes with seeds this time. Since before there were 46 boxes.

“NordGen is well in phase with their long-term goal to deposit safety copies of all their important accessions in the seed vault,” Åsmund Asdal says and closes the heavy, frosted, steel door.

Source: NordGen

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