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African seed collection first to arrive in Norway on route to Arctic seed vault
Date:1/30/2008

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 humanitys 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 Norways Svalbard archipelago, where the vault has been constructed in a mountain deep inside the Arctic permafrost.

IITAs genebank houses the worlds largest collection of cowpea, with over 15,000 unique varieties from 88 countries around the world, said Dr Dominique Dumet, genebank manager at IITA. Our collection holds in-trust about 70 percent of cowpea landraces from Africa. Cowpea (also known as black-eyed pea in the USA) is a key staple in Africa, offering an inexpensive source of protein.

This month, other centers supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) began packing and shipping duplicate collections from Benin, Colombia, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, and Syria. Collectively, the CGIAR centers maintain 600,000
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Contact: Jeff Haskins
jhaskins@burnesscommunications.com
301-652-1558
CGIAR
Source:Eurekalert

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