In the town of Vicuña, in the Elqui Valley, the Agricultural Research Institute (INIA) built a Seed Bank in 1990 with the aim of collecting and researching species that could improve the country´s agriculture. However, since 2001, its mission changed, focusing on the conservation of Chilean native flora. With the support of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew, United Kingdom, it initiated a program to collect and preserve seeds from Chilean plan species, particularly endemic and threatened species from arid and semi-arid areas of the country. Since then, billions of seeds from the country´s native flora have been collected and conserved. In its vault, at -20ºC and 15% relative humidity, the future of a country is being safeguarded today.
Juan Horacio Sotomayor Soler
Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias (INIA)