[WATCH] Malta’s first national plant gene bank to open in 2022

A national gene bank will be set up to store seeds from endemic plants and propagation material

Scientists inside one of the vaults at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, the UK (inset photo RBG Kew/Andrew McRobb). Malta will soon get its own seed bank to preserve endemic plant species that will be built at the plant health directorate in Attard.
Scientists inside one of the vaults at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, the UK (inset photo RBG Kew/Andrew McRobb). Malta will soon get its own seed bank to preserve endemic plant species that will be built at the plant health directorate in Attard.
Malta's first National Gene Bank to open in 2022

More than 200 local varieties of fruit trees were lost over the last century but the creation of a national gene bank intends to reverse the trend.

The gene bank will store seeds of endemic plants, propagation material and native endemic plants.

Plans for the gene bank were unveiled on Tuesday by Agriculture Minister Anton Refalo and EU Funds Parliamentary Secretary Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi.

The facility will be equipped with laboratories and equipment designed to conserve and study plants at a genetic level, allowing for collaboration with foreign partners. It will also be equipped with a public botanical museum, herbarium, a specialised library and a roof garden with low lying indigenous plants.

The development will take place at Plant Protection Directorate in Attard and is expected to open its doors in 2022.

“The national gene bank is a commitment to the continued preservation of the Maltese natural and cultural heritage… more than 200 local varieties of fruit trees have been lost over the last century and many Maltese crop varieties are under-utilised,” Zrinzo Azzopardi said.

Maureen Delia, acting director at the directorate, said the bank was a first for the island and highlighted Malta’s continued focus on conservation.

Refalo said Malta needed to give young farmers the tools to best survive in the modern age and that the gene bank would act as a resourceful tool for them to use.

“When I was chairman of Heritage Malta I understood the importance our past plays in influencing our future. Today we recognise the mistakes made in the past, and do our best to move forward to conserve our heritage,” he said.

Refalo said if no action was taken, the risk of losing further plant diversity will continuity.

 

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