LAGOS, NIGERIA (31 January 2008)-Twenty-one boxes filled with 7,000 unique seed samples from more than 36 African nations were shipped to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a facility being built on a remote island in the Arctic Circle as a repository of last resort for humanity’s agricultural heritage.The vault is being built by the Norwegian government as a service to the global community, and a Rome-based international NGO, the Global Crop Diversity Trust, will fund its operation. The vault will open on 26 February 2008.
The shipment, which was sent by the Ibadan, Nigeria-based International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), consists of thousands of duplicates of unique varieties of domesticated and wild cowpea, maize, soybean, and Bambara groundnut. The seeds from the IITA genebank in Ibadan, Nigeria, were packed in 21 boxes weighing a total of 330 kg. The processing by IITA staff took several months, and the boxes were packaged over a three-day period, with 10 staff checking the accession list, reporting errors, and adjusting the inventory, as needed.
The seeds were shipped on to Oslo on route to the village of Longyearbyen on Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, where the vault has been constructed in a mountain deep inside the Arctic permafrost.