In a significant move towards securing global food diversity, the Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-PGRRI) has become Ghana its 100th depositor to the renowned Svalbard Global Seed Vault. This milestone signifies an essential step in preserving crop diversity for the future and strengthening food security in Ghana and worldwide.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, located on a remote island in the Arctic, has been diligently safeguarding over 1.2 million seed samples from genebanks worldwide. It is the largest crop diversity collection in one central repository, providing a critical resource for adapting agricultural systems to a rapidly changing climate and other environmental challenges.
Ghana’s inclusion in this global initiative is of utmost significance, as it adds to the growing global network of institutions dedicated to conserving crop diversity. This collaborative effort involves the participation of 15 other organizations, including the Bonn University Botanic Gardens in Germany, also making its inaugural deposit. Together, they pool resources to secure duplicates of their vital seed collections within the Svalbard Vault.
The Ghanaian deposit includes key crops integral to the nation’s food security, public health, and culinary heritage. Among these are maize, rice, eggplant, and cowpea varieties, highlighting the rich agricultural diversity that Ghana contributes to the global seed bank.
In a statement, Daniel Kotey, Senior Research Scientist at CSIR-PGRRI, expressed the significance of this milestone, saying, “This is our very first safety back-up. It 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.” Kotey also acknowledged the invaluable contribution of the farmers from whom these seeds were originally collected and the dedication of current and past staff members at the Ghana genebank.
Global efforts to preserve crop diversity have never been more critical. With the world facing numerous challenges, such as climate change, shifting agricultural landscapes, and evolving pests and diseases, ensuring that a diverse range of crops is available for future generations is paramount. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a global insurance policy against potential disasters that could threaten our food supply.
Geir Pollestad, the Norwegian Minister of Agriculture and Food, stressed the importance of securing crop diversity during global food security concerns, emphasizing that “securing important crop diversity is more important than ever.” He warmly welcomed all gene banks participating in the October 2023 deposit and congratulated the Plant Genetic Resource Institute of Ghana for becoming the 100th depositor.
The Crop Trust, an international organization dedicated to conserving crop diversity and ensuring global food and nutrition security, is central to supporting the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The organization coordinates large-scale projects worldwide to safeguard crop diversity and make it accessible. Recognized as an essential element of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture funding strategy, the Crop Trust’s endowment fund ensures long-term financial support to key genebanks worldwide.
In this collective effort, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault continues to play a crucial role in securing diverse and adaptable crops for future generations. The Ghanaian deposit signifies shared responsibility in safeguarding our global food supply.