As the risks from the climate crisis and global conflict increase, seed banks are increasingly considered a priceless resource that could one day prevent a worldwide food crisis, write Salomé Gómez-Upegui and Rita Liu in an extensive article published by The Guardian.
They write that there are roughly 1,700 seed banks, or gene banks, around the world housing collections of plant species that are invaluable for scientific research, education, species preservation and safeguarding Indigenous cultures.
Gómez-Upegui and Liu take a look at some of the world’s most important seed banks, whose goal is to safeguard biodiversity as it rapidly diminishes, including the Potato Park, located in Pisac, Peru, a rural village nestled in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, is a unique seed bank.
Managed by local Indigenous communities the park conserve a wide array of Andean crops including maize and quinoa but it has a special focus on potatoes, housing around 2,300 of the 4,000 varieties of potatoes known in the world, and 23 of the more than 200 wild species of potatoes currently known to humanity.
Aside from being an essential project to conserve the genetic material of valuable crops, the Potato Park is a critical territory to preserve the Indigenous heritage of the six communities and more than 6,000 people who call this park home.