GIVE PEAS A CHANCE: Rare grey peas from Latvia among 14,000 seed samples placed in Svalbard Global Seed Vault during last deposit in 2021; Serbia also makes first deposits

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Eesentials of Latvian cuisine including grey peas, dill and caraway are among the more than 14,000 seed samples deposited this week in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, as genebanks in that country and Serbia joined the 87 other depositors who have placed 1,125,416 samples in the vault.

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The entrance of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, where 50 boxes of seed samples were deposited this week, was completely rebuilt and upgraded a few years ago due to water leakage and drainage problems related to climate change. Photo courtesy of the Global Crop Diversity Trust.

The Benefit-sharing Fund of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture supported the first Serbian deposit. Its 96 seed samples included varieties of wheat, rye, barley and oats.

“This diversity we’re depositing is a beautiful representation of Latvian agriculture and heritage,” said Dainis Ruņģis, manager of Latvia’s Genetic Resource Center/LMVI ‘Silava,’ which deposited 153 seed samples. “Although mainly staples like barley, wheat and flax, the deposit includes some rarer crops, too.”

The first Serbian deposit of 96 seed samples – including varities of wheat, barley, rye and oats – was made by the Benefit-sharing Fund of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) is the largest overall contributor to the Svalbard vault, with 177,850 seed samples, according to a press release by the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which administers the vault.

This week’s deposits are the last scheduled in 2021. Generally deposits take place a few times a year, but they were put on hold after the first one in 2020 once COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic.