Lebanon project aims to recreate Aleppo collection of 150,000 seeds representing knowledge of generations of farmers in Middle East
The wild wheat seed had tripped from Aleppo to the Arctic circle in north Norway. It has now come nearly full circle to Lebanons Bekaa valley, where great efforts is under way to save “the worlds” agricultural inheritance from the ruins of the Syrian civil conflict.
Mariana Yazbek, who runs the gene bank at the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas( Icarda ), held up the specimen. Anticipate how much potential is in this seed, she mentioned. Humanity is in our hands.
The return journey from the Arctic to the Middle East was not one the seed is anticipated to build. The Svalbard world seed vault, buried in a Norwegian mountain, contains hundreds of native seeds in all regions of the world, preserved in the event of a doomsday scenario to aid humanity rise from the ashes and help feed a shattered world.
The war in Syria, was launched in 2011, changed the calculus. Icardas Aleppo facility, which comprised a collection of 150, 000 seeds representative of knowledge of generations of farmers in the Fertile Crescent, where agriculture began, is now all but inaccessible to the organisations faculty so out in Lebanons agricultural hinterland a grand programme is slowly coming to life to recreate it using tests from the Svalbard vault.
Go back 10,000 times, all the farmers that worked in this region and on those crops, “theres” diversities you cannot find anymore in the fields, mentioned Yazbek. The only place where you can find them is in the seed bank. The specimens sent from Svalbard were the first ever departures from the bank.
The young men and women at the Icarda building in Torbol, Lebanon, methodically go about their business in silence, marking the fodder from the seeds, counting and recounting them, treating the fragile little plants for disease with a pink dye meant to ward off fungi.
Their sternness matches the severity of the task at hand. What we are losing is the history of these thousands of years represented in crops, and youre losing your safety net for the future, mentioned Yazbek.
The aim is to recreate the whole collection that existed in Aleppo, Syrias commercial-grade capital before “its been” devastated by conflict, in seed banks in Lebanon and Morocco using the tests from the doomsday vault and other replica that had been sent to seed banks around the world.
About 85% of the Aleppo collection had been be repeated in Svalbard, a process that accelerated when the conflict began and unavoidably reached Aleppo in mid-2 012. A third of those tests have now been sent to Lebanon and Morocco.
Many of the wild diversities no longer exist, and those seeds that have been saved represent decades and centuries of genetic selection by local farmers who helped to humanitys collective knowledge of agriculture.
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