The Gubba group, which has a network of 12 cold storage facilities, has set up the country’s first Germplasm Bank in the private sector. Set up with an investment of Rs 4 crore at Medchal near here, the bank can withstand earthquakes, power outages and fire accidents.

Maintaining a temperature of -20 degrees Celsius, the bank can protect the seed up to 40 years. The first of the two vaults would go operational from February 1. The company is in touch with the seed firms and other stakeholders to safe keep their germplasm.

“In the absence of professionally run germplasm banks, most of the seed firms are storing the seed in not so scientific methods,” Gubba Kiran, Chief Executive Officer of the group, said.

Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday after inaugurating the facility, he said the bank had two vaults, with a combined capacity of 107 lockers.

The group, which registered a turnover of Rs 28 crore, has 12 cold storage facilities with a combined capacity of 90 lakh cubic feet. “We are considering expanding our presence to Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Guntur. We will at least go to two cities in the next financial year,” Gubba Prashant said.

The company has announced a free service for individuals and non-governmental organisations that wanted to protect endangered germplasm. For commercial users, it plans to charge Rs 20-25,000 per locker per month.

K.C Bansal, Director of National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, has said that there was need to work in a network to conserve germ plasm. “It is important to make it available for farmers too in order to ensure food and nutritional security in the country,” he said.