The Sunday Times says

Banking to seed future growth

One can think of it as seeding for the future. Singapore's first seed bank has opened at the Botanic Gardens and has the capacity to store the seeds of up to 25,000 plant species. The seeds can be used for habitat restoration and species conservation projects here and in the region. More than $1.17 million has been raised so far for research and development, and the Gardens plans to raise more than $5 million over the next 10 years to fund research, development and education efforts. The seed bank is both a nod to the history of the Gardens and a resource for the future. Singapore has a long history as a centre for botanical research.

Sir Stamford Raffles set up a 19ha garden at Fort Canning where cash crops such as nutmeg, cloves and cocoa were first cultivated. More famously, the Gardens' first scientific director, Sir Henry Nicholas Ridley, perfected a rubber tapping technique that yielded maximum quantities of latex without destroying the trees, and spearheaded research which turned the Gardens into a major seed supplier for the industry. In today's world, where climate change threatens to devastate both agriculture and nature, it is apt that the Gardens has reasserted its purpose as a core resource in conservation and cultivation. The Svalbard International Seed Vault, nicknamed the Doomsday Vault, is perhaps the world's best-known seed bank, where a vast library of seeds are stored in conditions meant to survive bombings and earthquakes. Beyond mere preservation, seed banks help encourage crop diversity.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 28, 2019, with the headline 'Banking to seed future growth'. Subscribe