COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – Norway will spend 63 million kroner ($6 million) per year until the end of the decade stocking up on grain as the COVID-19 pandemic, a war in Europe and climate change have made it necessary, the government said Friday.
Starting next year, Norway will start storing 15,000 tons of grain and do so yearly until 2028 or 2029, according to Norway´s minister for agriculture and food, Geir Pollestad, who said the aim is to always have a three-month worth of consumption in storage.
Toward the end of the decade, 82,500 tons of grain should be in stock. Pollestad didn’t elaborate on the type of grain to be stored.
Pollestad told the Norwegian news agency NTB that they must take into consideration “the unthinkable” happening. “In a situation with extreme prices on the world market, it will still be possible to buy grain, but if we have done our job, we will not be so dependent on the highest bidder at auction. We can help keep prices down.”
Norwegian Finance Minister Trygve Slagsvold Vedum told NTB that “food preparedness is about security for” everyone.
The Norwegian Parliament will have to approve the plan before moving forward.
The storage location of these potential grain stockpiles has not been decided. Norway had stored grain in the 1950s but closed down these storages in 2003 after the Scandinavian country decided it was no longer necessary.
Norway houses the Global Seed Vault in its Svalbard archipelago, some 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) from the North Pole.
Since 2008, gene banks and organizations around the world have deposited nearly 1 million samples of seeds at the vault to back up their own collections in case of man-made or natural calamities.
The Norwegian government funded the construction cost while an international nonprofit organization pay for operational costs.
Russia’s war on Ukraine has affected the global trade of grain with both countries being major suppliers of corn wheat, barley and vegetable oil.
In July, Russia halted a wartime agreement with Ukraine allowing grain to move to countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where hunger threatens millions of people already struggling with high local food prices.