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WorldVeg, Taiwan join Svalbard Seed Vault anniversary celebration

2018/01/31 17:49:57

Taipei, Jan. 31 (CNA) The Tainan-based World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg) is sending a gift of samples of 21 vegetable species to the Svalbard International Seed Vault in Norway in celebration of the latter's 10th birthday.

WorldVeg staff packed 1,004 samples, or "accessions," of the species, including okra, eggplant, soybean, pumpkin, loofah and leaf mustard, in the shipment for Svalbard at the company's headquarters in Shanhua District of Tainan City on Wednesday.

"Delivery takes 10 days and we need to make sure the seed boxes will arrive in time for the celebration," research assistant Sophie Chou said in a statement on the center's official website.

The Svalbard Seed Vault will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Feb. 26 and 27. Established to protect the world's agricultural diversity and heritage, the facility is known as the "Doomsday Vault" because it was built to withstand natural or man-made disasters.

WordVeg's genebank team began preparing the samples they are sending to Svalbard in 2016, according to Chou.

The accessions were planted between September and October 2016 for seed multiplication, and then harvested from late 2016 to mid-2017, Chou said.

After harvesting, the seeds were dried for several months depending on the crop species to prepare them for storage in extremely cold rooms.

The World Vegetable Center maintains the world's largest public collection of vegetable seeds, which are available to research institutions, farmers, and seed companies worldwide, according to the center.

Its 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 percent of its collection duplicated and stored in the vault, the center said.

"We take our stewardship of this precious resource very seriously," said Maarten von Zonneveld, WorldVeg's genebank manager.

"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."

Adjacent to the Southern Taiwan Science Park, just south of Shanhua District, the 117-hectare WorldVeg headquarters campus contains research fields, laboratories, glasshouses, administration buildings and accommodation for international staff, students and guests.

(By Yang Sz-ruei and Elizabeth Hsu)