When the apprehension delves into the human brain about the future, all the economist, environmentalist, politicians and many more come into a single platform to ponder over the impact of climate change on agriculture in the coming decades which is a substantial threat to the world and individuals. This results in a clarion call for urgent action to be taken by all the countries to tackle the change and preserve the planet’s natural resources.

The heart of 2030 Agenda for sustainable development adopted by UN in 2015 and In addition to trying to achieve SDGs(Sustainable development goals), by the mid of the century Agricultural production will need to increase sustainability to feed the growing and urbanizing population, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The very fundamental and crucial input which holds key to farm productivity and profitability comes into the picture in the SEED. The delivery of high-quality seeds to farmers is essential for improving crop production and meeting environmental challenges. It influences the global production. The food security is therefore dependent on seed security.

But crop varieties are already vanishing at an astonishing pace for more mundane reasons, from shifting local weather patterns to disuse by farmers adopting new hybrids. The vault represents a chance to save as many as possible. The Doomsday vault is seen as humanity’s last hope against extinction after a world crisis. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was the brainchild of Cary Fowler, a scientist, conservationist and biodiversity advocate. 

About the Vault

Deep in the bowels of an icy mountain on an island above the Arctic Circle between Norway and the North Pole lies a resource of vital importance for the future of humankind. It’s not coal, oil or precious minerals, but SEEDS.

Today the wide range of plants that humans have relied on throughout history is threatened by the clones of modern industrial agriculture, new diseases, and climate change. The Seed Storage Vault—in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago 800 miles above the Arctic Circle—was designed to ensure that nature’s vast array of genes is not lost and contains almost a million packets of seeds, each a variety of an important food crop.

Climatic conditions — The scientists need not worry about the seeds going bad because the temperature of the place remains at −46.3 °C (−51.3 °F). Moreover, for 153 days a year, the island does not receive sunlight at all.

People call the vault a Noah’s Ark for seeds.

Millions of these tiny brown specks, from more than 930,000 varieties of food crop are stored in the Global Seed Vault. It is essentially a huge safety deposit box, holding the world’s largest collection of agricultural biodiversity. “Inside this building is 13,000 years of agricultural history. Those staples include around 140,000 different samples of wheat varieties; 150,000 samples of rice; 70,000 samples of barley; and between 10,000 and 20,000 samples each of different kinds of potatoes, peas, sorghum, and many other crops.

There are more than 1,700 gene banks around the world that keep collections of seeds, they are all vulnerable to war, natural disasters, equipment malfunctions and other problems. The remarkable facility set on a rugged Arctic island off Norway is the ultimate global safety net for food security. The subterranean facility is designed to protect up to 2.25 billion seeds from even “Doomsday” scenarios like asteroid impacts and nuclear war.

The structure of the SEED VAULT

At the entrance tunnel to the warehouse, the wind is drowned out by the roar of a cooling system that deepens the freeze in the space to minus 18°C (0°F)—a temperature ensuring that seed samples stay viable in the event of a global cataclysm. Through one door is a wide concrete tunnel illuminated by strip lighting leading 430 ft. down into the mountain. At the end of this corridor is a chamber, an added layer of security to protect the vaults containing the seeds.

There are three vaults leading off from the chamber, but only one is currently in use, and its door is covered in a thick layer of ice, hinting at the subzero temperatures inside. In here, the seeds are stored in vacuum-packed silver packets and test tubes in large boxes that are neatly stacked on floor-to-ceiling shelves. They have very little monetary value, but the boxes potentially hold the keys to the future of global food security.

Inside the mountain that houses the vault, it is very cold, around -4°C, meaning that less work needs to be done to cool the seeds down to the required -16 °C  for storage. In the event of a catastrophic event that knocks the power offline, the seeds can only warm to around -4 °C and will, therefore, be better preserved.

THE STORAGE INSIDE THE VAULT (The vault is carved into Arctic permafrost, which has an ideal temperature for preserving the seed samples)

Current climate plans imply global warming of about 30°C by 2100, with warming continuing afterwards. In addition, 2015-2019 has seen a continued increase in CO2 levels and other key greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere to new records, with CO2 growth rates nearly 20 per cent higher than the previous five years. As the world strives to cut greenhouse gas emissions and limit climate change, it is crucial to track progress towards globally agreed climate goals. Therefore, in order to prepare the world and preserve the genetic diversity, there’s a certain insurance policy for the threats that contribute to the traumatic changes which is the SEED VAULT. Hence, for saving the spuds International Potato Center shipped 195 samples of wild potato and 61 of wild sweet potato to Svalbard, in part to protect the species and to experiment with creating more nutritious, disease-resistant types of domestic potatoes. CIMMYT mailed in 1,946 types of maize, or corn, and 5,964 samples of wheat.

Food tank has highlighted some crops under Svalbard Global seed Vault to name a few-

Chickpea

Chickpea seeds from countries primarily in the Middle East and South Asia sit in the vault protected from future gene bank disasters. The crop is a staple ingredient in India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, and its flour is gaining popularity in developed countries like the United States. To protect a positive future for chickpea seeds, over a dozen gene banks sent samples of their seeds for protection.

Alfalfa

Alfalfa plays important roles in soil health, insect diversity, and irrigation efficiency on sustainable farms across the world. With three types of alfalfa sourced from large countries like Canada and China, the seed vault’s storage helps gene banks ensure future biodiverse alfalfa production not only for the crop itself but for the other crops it supports.

Coriander

A prominent herb in Indian, Mexican, and Thai diets, coriander’s vitality matters for global diets; however, in today’s rising temperatures, coriander may finish its life cycle more quickly. Genebanks in Russia, Canada, Germany, Austria, and the United States sent seed samples to the seed vault to back-up their own seed stocks, experiments, and research.

 Potato

Although the vault contains nearly 800,000 Irish potato seeds, the seeds from wild and lesser-known potatoes provide a back-up for genebanks. As potato is a staple root vegetable all over the world, the vault’s supply provides an important back-up for genebanks experimenting with harnessing wild genomes for domesticated crop climate resilience.

 Rice

It’s the major crop of India. With species of rice like African rice, wild red rice, and long-stamen rice, the seed vault has accumulated a back-up rice seed bank for gene banks all over the world. 

Wheat

The seed vault includes over 10 species of wheat, including common wheat, durum wheat, rivet wheat, and even lesser-known variants like Karamyschev’s wheat, Polish wheat, and Persian wheat. Common wheat represents the second most frequently acquired crop in the seed vault, falling just behind rice.

Climate-proofing the future

According to an estimate in 2017-18 economic survey, when temperatures are 1°Celsius higher than normal, farm income falls by 6.2% during Kharif season and 6% during Rabi season in unirrigated districts which are related to the deteriorating quality of seeds.

Therefore, due to all these catastrophic phenomena, we need not have a seed museum in this world rather we need to preserve, protect and use the seeds which are the vital and primary basis of the human sustenance, food security and global hunger. So, the worth of Global seed vault(product of the hard work of farmers) –“Sowing the seed for future” protecting the world from the apocalypse is also in the verge of danger. Henceforth every country’s ray of hope lies in this Doomsday vault, it’s the responsibility of each and every person on this planet to contribute towards the sustainable and greener environment.

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