On a remote island in the Arctic Ocean, off the coast of Norway, a robust storage facility is hidden inside a mountain of sandstone, holding over ten thousand years of agricultural history. This is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a secure backup provision preserving the world’s crop diversity. In case of any unprecedented global event resulting in a food shortage, this facility will ensure the continuation of our agricultural history.
Why is this important and how is it directly related to supply chain?
Protecting the Future of Food
Seed vaults have a direct relationship with our diet. There are over a thousand of these banks located all over the world, but there are currently none in Mexico. This needs to change and is on the cusp of doing so. The world’s plant diversity is diminishing at an alarming rate, and Mexico is home to an invaluable number of them. In fact, the Environmental Conservation Monitoring Center, a subdivision of the United Nations Environment Program, has identified Mexico as one of the world’s seventeen ‘megadiverse’ nations. These megadiverse nations fulfill a unique criteria: They are mainly tropical, they maintain over 70% of the world’s biodiversity, but their territories only cover 10% of the globe’s surface.
The need to protect Mexico’s genetic plant biodiversity is crucial to ensuring the availability of food in the future, especially if climate change continues to accelerate at its current pace. Droughts, floods, fires, or frosts are all realistic dangers as well as other calamities such as plague, war, deforestation, pollution, or soil degradation.
Therefore, there is a growing need to promote knowledge of the use and conservation of Mexico’s genetic plant diversity, especially that which is related to food. A seed bank in Mexico would be an innovative solution to providing insulation for fragile supply chains, particularly as the climate in Mexico can be unpredictable at times.
We are currently seeing a period of strong and sustained economic growth and development in Mexico, therefore the eventual establishment of a seed vault in the region shouldn’t come as a surprise to many. It will naturally follow that supply chain businesses will expand and seek to establish relationships with and utilise these banks.
If this happens, it will result in an explosion of hiring in Mexico. Supply chain leaders with experience in raw ingredients will find themselves in extremely high demand. Beyond that, those with research experience in the food and beverage industry will find themselves particularly suited to projects like this.
Research centers and universities across the globe are continuing to deepen this field, so it’s likely that at least by 2023, we’ll begin to hear more about food security in Mexico and diversifying the country’s sources of food. Seed vaults are a great first step towards ensuring that the food and beverage supply chain doesn’t collapse should a calamity befall the region.
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