At the end of October, SERBIA sent 96 samples of small grains for storage for the first time, for storage in the World Seed Vault, in Svalbard.
Seeds of wheat, oats, rye and barley were sent to the archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. The next shipment for Svalbard will be part of the national corn collection, in cooperation with the “Zemun Polje” Corn Institute.
This is what Milena Savić Ivanov, coordinator of the Plant Gene Bank, Directorate of the National Laboratory in Batajnica, says for “Novosti”. As she told us, only thanks to scientists from the Institute of Field and Vegetable Crops in Novi Sad, and with their help, Serbia sent seeds to the far north.
– The samples that were sent were collected during the GRAINEFIT project, which was supported by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization – said Savić Ivanov.
– The World Seed Vault is a gift from the Norwegian government to the world and its capacity is 4.5 million samples. It currently stores 1,125,419 samples, out of 5,481 species of cultivated agricultural plants, which arrived from 89 gene banks from around the world.
The World Seed Vault is located in Svalbard, halfway between Norway and the North Pole. As our interlocutor explained, it is located in an old abandoned mine, where the natural temperature is minus 18 degrees. Here the seeds are stored for a long time, up to 100 years. Its role is to support national gene banks to preserve seed duplicates of the most important agricultural plants for the food security of future generations and for the renewal of agricultural systems in the event of natural disasters, wars and other threats.
– In Serbia, 193 species of plants are used for food and commercial agricultural production, which are marked as mandated species – explains Savić Ivanov.
– They are divided into cereals, industrial plants, fodder, vegetables, fruits and vines. Mechanisms need to be found to adequately preserve, refine and use these resources in organic, integral and biodynamic production. Also, their advantages in terms of disease resistance and adaptation to local climatic conditions should be used. Genetic resources represent an imperative for survival and a chance for the progress of future generations.
According to Milena Savić Ivanov, Serbia stores its plant genetic resources in the Plant Gene Bank, the Directorate for National Reference Laboratories of the Ministry of Agriculture, as well as in agricultural institutes and faculties. The Plant Gene Bank implements a complex system of conservation of genetic resources for food and agriculture, their collection, classification, reproduction, regeneration, evaluation, documentation and exchange.
– She is the guardian of our tradition and future – Savić Ivanov thinks.
– The Plant Gene Bank keeps 4,300 samples from 274 plant species. It is available to scientists and breeders. Here, in strictly controlled conditions, samples of cultivated plants are kept for up to 20 years, but also for a period of more than 50 years. It is estimated that a total of about 20,000 samples of agricultural plant seeds are stored in Serbia, as well as 3,500 fruit species and vines.
In the Plant Gene Bank in Batajnica, says Savić Ivanov, corn, small grains, industrial, fodder, vegetable and medicinal plants are stored for up to 20 years, at plus four degrees Celsius. The oldest specimens are about 30 years old. By the way, there are 500 samples of corn and wheat in long-term storage.
– The analysis of agrobiodiversity, autochthonous species, varieties and varieties of plants used for food and agriculture in Serbia, shows that many of them are endangered and that they may soon disappear – our interlocutor explains.
– Vulnerability occurs due to migration of humans and animals, diseases, natural disasters, social and economic changes, degradation of ecosystems, changes in market demands, introduction of exotic species into production, crossbreeding, as well as lack of awareness to recognize the importance of their conservation, insufficient control and monitoring . The old varieties have been suppressed by modern and commercial hybrids, so the preservation of genetic diversity is of strategic national importance for food safety in Serbia.
OFFERED THEIR CAPACITIES
There are three ways to store samples of cultivated agricultural plants, says Milena Savić Ivanov. In nature, where they originated on agricultural estates, it can be outside the place of origin in controlled conditions and in living collections. Fruits and vines are kept there.
In addition, we have three levels of sample storage. These are the National Gene Bank, then the gene bank of some of the countries in the region and the third safe place of storage is the World Seed Vault – Svalbard in Norway. By the way, Serbia has offered the region its capacities for storing 100,000 seed samples.
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