Plans are in place to safeguard the future of Syrian agriculture by recreating a seed collection stored in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, which is at risk of being destroyed by the country's civil war. Edward Baran reports.
In Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, a team of Syrian scientists are trying to safeguard the future of their country's agriculture. They're recreating a seed collection stored in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. Now that collection is at risk of being destroyed by war. Because of conditions in Syria, the scientists have been forced to withdraw crop seeds from a vault in Norway, designed to protect them from nuclear events and natural disasters. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) HASSAN MACHLAB, INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH IN THE DRY AREAS (ICARDA), SAYING: "...We kept this collection in Norway because it' a safe place, and the aim was to use them in the case of an emergency situation only. A while ago we decided we were now in an emergency situation because we could not get the seeds from the gene bank in Aleppo because of the fighting. We contacted Norway and got a collection of seeds and brought them to Lebanon in order to plant them and get seeds to preserve them." Keeping copies of wild and domesticated varieties of staple crops like wheat, barley and fava beans is important for global food security. To re-grow, store and catalogue the thousands of seeds will take time. But the team hopes work can one day resume inside Syria.