A crucial seed preservation and storage site was severely damaged in Kharkiv during Russia’s attempt to take the eastern and second-largest Ukrainian city.

The lead researcher at the Yuriev Plant Production Institute under the National Academy of Agrarian Sciences, Serhiy Avramenko, announced the news on his privately-available YouTube channel, the Odessa Journal reported on May 16.

The vital seed bank, founded in 1908 and which survived World War II, was nearly destroyed, he said.

It stored more than 160 varieties of plant seeds and hybrids of agricultural crops, including some that no longer exist in Europe.

It is one of the world’s largest and Ukraine’s only plant gene bank.

“Everything turned to ashes – tens of thousands of samples of seed material! Including varieties that are hundreds of years old, ancient, ones that can no longer be restored. Everything burnt out,” Avramenko said.


The storage and preservation site was damaged by Russian shelling.

Seed breeders from around the world would order samples from the institute, including Russia, Avramenko added.

It is not clear how the seed bank was damaged because such sites are usually flood, bomb, and radiation-proof vaults “holding jars of seeds from different plant species,” the British-based Woodland Trust says on its website.

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