The risk was particularly highlighted earlier this month when a research facility near PGRU was devastated, according to the Crop Trust, a nonprofit founded by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The facility and the PGRU are both located in the city of Kharkiv – Northeastern Ukraine, which is witnessing shelling.
“Seed banks are like a kind of life insurance to humanity. They provide the raw materials to breed new crop varieties that are resistant to drought, emerging pests and diseases, and temperature rises. It would be a huge loss if the Ukraine seed bank is destroyed,” Crop Trust’s CEO Stefan Schmitz told Reuters on May 31.
A wheat field on the outskirts of Kharkiv city – Ukraine, the world’s fourth largest wheat exporter Photo: REUTERS
In the face of increasingly extreme weather around the world, seed banks are playing an increasingly important role in ensuring a seasonal food supply for the world’s 7.9 billion people. The war between Russia and Ukraine, the world’s third and fourth largest grain exporters, has sent food prices soaring and the risk of food shortages increased.
The Crop Trust financially supported Ukraine to clone the seed and send it to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the world’s largest and most important seed cloning facility. However, this process is being stalled by problems related to the crop cycle, as well as security and wartime logistics.
The war in Syria provided a lesson in the importance of seed storage at the World Seed Bank Svalbard in Norway.
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