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WorldVeg and Taiwan to participate in Svalbard Seed Vault 10th anniversary

More than 1000 samples of 21 vegetable species from the WorldVeg genebank headed for storage in the global “Doomsday Vault”

2018 is a special year for the Svalbard Seed Vault in Norway.

This long-term seed storage facility to protect the world’s agricultural diversity and heritage—known to some as the “Doomsday Vault” because it was built to withstand natural or man-made disasters—will celebrate its 10th anniversary on 26-27 February 2018.

NordGen/CropTrust, which operates the facility, has planned a series of events to mark the occasion.

Sophie Chou, Principal Research Assistant at the World Vegetable Center genebank and Maarten van Zonneveld, WorldVeg Genebank Manager, are among the invited guests going to Svalbard to join in the celebrations.

The WorldVeg Genebank team: (left to right) Yen Sheng-hung, Willie Chen, Jessica Chang, Letty Lin, Maarten van Zonneveld, Sophie Chou, Yung-kuang Huang, David Wu.

The World Vegetable Center, with headquarters in Shanhua, Taiwan, maintains the world’s largest public collection of vegetable seed. The seed is available to research institutions, farmers, and seed companies worldwide. This vast collection representing 439 species provides the genetic diversity needed to improve vegetable crops, which are a vital source of nutrients for the human diet.

WorldVeg has been an active participant in the Svalbard Seed Vault from the beginning, and now has about 24% of its collection duplicated and stored in the vault.

“We take our stewardship of this precious resource very seriously,” said Maarten. “By placing duplicates of the seed in the WorldVeg collection in other genebanks and in the long-term storage at Svalbard, we can help ensure its safety, now and in the future.”

In 2016 the genebank team began preparing 1,004 accessions or samples to send to Svalbard. The accessions were grown out in September 2016 for seed multiplication. Seeds were harvested in January 2017. After harvesting, seeds were dried for three to six months depending on the crop species to make them ready for storage in cold rooms.

The seeds are now being packed for the Svalbard shipment, which will be sent before February 5th. “Delivery takes 10 days and we need to make sure the seed boxes will arrive in time for the celebration,” Sophie said.

This shipment from the WorldVeg Genebank is a very important event for Taiwan. It demonstrates Taiwan’s commitment to the international community and Taiwan’s contribution to helping secure the future of agriculture.

World Vegetable Center crop seed samples prepared for shipment to Svalbard in February 2018

Crop genus/species Common name No of accessions
Abelmoschus okra 128
Amaranthus amaranth 29
Brassica 1
Cajanus pigeon pea 17
Cleome spider plant 44
Coccinia scarlet gourds 1
Cucumis cucumber 13
Cucurbita pumpkin 22
Glycine soybeans 105
Lagenaria gourds 6
Luffa loofah 30
Macroptilium 1
Phaseolus common beans 23
Pisum pea 28
Sesbania 2
Solanum eggplant 70
Vigna angularis adzuki bean 8
Vigna mungo Black gram 14
Vigna radiata mungbean 17
Vigna umbellata rice bean 207
Vigna unguiculata Cowpea & yard-long bean 238
TOTAL   1,004

Story: Maureen Mecozzi, Kathy Chen   Photos: Vanna Liu

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The black boxes are clearly labeled with the new WorldVeg logo.

Maarten van Zonneveld explains genebank operations to a reporter.

Sophie Chou shows reporters the documentation that must accompany the shipment of seed.