With concerns about climate change and global warming on the rise, seed banks are considered as a last resort to conserving different plants and crops. These banks collect varieties of seeds, from farm crops to plants, that may be endangered due to the increasing heat, plastic pollution and change in agricultural soil.
On Friday, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that a South American seed bank, named The bank in Costa Rica, Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), has around 6,200 samples from 125 variants of edible plants like squash, chillies and tomatoes. “In response to climate change, we have here important materials for food security that are locally adapted,” says plant geneticist William Solano to AFP.
Seed banks are also prevalent in other parts of the world. For example, the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR) located in Delhi stores more than a thousand varieties of seeds with different rice strains, soybean and kiwi fruit.
A 2016 Mint article, titled The vaults securing the future of food, explains that seeds are collected from farmers across India and then tested for health in New Delhi before they are preserved in underground vaults. The NBPGR also lends some preserved seeds to farmers so they can grow plants that have previously disappeared from the crop rotation.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway, which is in its 15th year, offers a place for duplicate samples of seeds that have been previously conserved in other seed banks around the world.
“Genetic resources of crops are the raw material that agricultural breeders and researchers need to develop the varieties. We need these varieties because of climate change, increasing food production, dry and wet climate conditions, new plant diseases, and so on,” says Åsmund Asdal, the co-ordinator of the vault in a 2018 Lounge article titled, Svalbard Global Seed Vault: the seeds of our future.