Proper storage of a seed is vital in order to conserve its vitality and vigor. Seed market research reports reveal that most seeds stored in cool, dry conditions will survive longer than seeds stored in a wet, warm environment. In many parts of the world agricultural seeds are stored in bins that are open to the ambient conditions, often resulting in short storage life and poor seed quality in hot, humid regions. At seed banks seeds are stored to preserve genetic diversity. They are dried to the optimum moisture content, evaluated for quality and genetic purity and sealed in moisture proof containers.
Singapore is known for its innovation and technology. The country has successfully taken up environmental concerns and used technology to create tourist attractions that incorporate them for instance Singapore Botanic Gardens. The country has recently taken up another project, to build the country’s first seed bank that aims to protect the threatened regional plant species. The dedicated facility will be located in Singapore Botanic Gardens and will have the capacity to store up to 25,000 plant species including rare orchids, native plants and South East Asian species. This is nearly half the total number of seed plant species in South East Asia. The concept is that seed banking is a form of insurance for plant biodiversity. It will ensure that seeds will be available in the future for research and restoration projects. The seed bank will enable the Botanic Gardens to support species reintroduction efforts throughout the region. The facility will include a seed biology lab, rooms for seed processing and storage freezers for seeds. Visitors will also be able to learn more about seed banking and conservation through educational galleries. The seed bank hopes to obtain 100 seed collections every year. This seed bank will mainly be dedicated to protecting dust like orchid seeds by chilling them in liquid nitrogen.
Seed industry research and market reports show that seed banks are a growing trend with nearly 1000 of them having been established globally. Singapore is also contributing now with its own project that specializes in orchids. This project has also led to business partnerships as National Parks Board (NParks) will work with Britain’s Kew Gardens Millennium Seed Bank to learn how to best manage seed banks of tropical plants. This project has also gained the trust and support of giants like HSBC which has donated more than USD 100,000 to kick start the development of the seed bank. Furthermore public support is also being incorporated as NParks will also look at how members of the public can contribute to the conservation work at the seed bank through the Garden City Fund.
Singapore’s seed bank is expected to be completed by mid 2019 and on opening will form a biological conservation hotspot in the global network of seed banks. The project is not only an environmental technology development but also a tourist attraction. This project brings out the fact that innovation aided by public interest has huge potential and effectiveness. Singapore is already among the world leaders of orchid cut flower exports and this project is a testament to its overall stability and genius which will only further its international repute.
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Ankur Gupta, Head Marketing & Communications