On 22 January 2008, CIMMYT sent more than 160 boxes of seed for long-term deposit in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Norway. The shipment comprised 10,000 maize accessions and 48,000 of wheat, and weighed around 3 tons in all. It was part of 200,000 seed collections of crop varieties sent this month for storage in the vault from CGIAR germplasm banks worldwide. The vault was 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 aim is to ensure that the collections remain available for bolstering food security, should a man-made or natural disaster ever threaten agricultural systems or germplasm bank collections.
CIMMYT’s shipment was drawn from regenerations performed over the past two years, and represents roughly a third of the center’s entire collection of crop genetic resources. The CGIAR shipments, were brought to the attention of the global media through timely public-relations efforts of the CG Secretariat communications team, with support from Burness Associates. Reports have appeared to date on 8 wire services, 5 TV and radio stations, 10 newspapers, and 6 web-based outlets. Coverage in Mexico included articles in the major dailies El Universal and La Jornada, as well as a spot in the Canal 11 evening news, all reflecting favorably on CIMMYT.
Congratulations to Tom Payne, Suketoshi Taba, Bibiana Espinosa, Víctor Chávez, and all staff in the germplasm bank and seed areas, who coordinated and prepared the shipment and interacted with reporters. Thanks as well to Rodomiro Ortiz, who served as CIMMYT spokesperson to the media for this initiative.