Tangible climate change
New figures from the European Commission show that the extreme drought that affected much of Europe this summer was felt especially hard in agriculture and forestry in the Nordic Region. This was the first time that climate change had a tangible impact on Nordic primary production. In Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland, the majority of crops for animal feed just dried up, leaving meat and dairy farmers facing a crisis.
Sweden’s Minister for Rural Affairs Sven-Erik Bucht convened a meeting of the Nordic ministers responsible for forestry and agriculture to discuss how the countries could jointly prepare for extreme weather in the future.
“Climate change and extreme weather know no boundaries and affect farmers throughout the Nordic Region. We’ve a lot to gain from developing tools together to make agriculture more resilient to extreme drought and heavy rainfall,” says Sven-Erik Bucht.
Seed shortage preparedness
The ministers agreed that the summer of 2018 demonstrated that there is a need to work together in order to adapt to climate change, both in the long and short term. Together they decided to appoint a task force to analyse the future challenges posed by extreme weather for agriculture and the forestry industry.
“In the short term, this may involve working together to improve forest fire preparedness and the lack of seed and animal feed resulting from extreme weather. In the longer term, this involves making agriculture more resilient to climate change,” says Norway’s Minister for Agriculture and Food, Bård Hoksrud.
NordGen can play a role
Here, the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre NordGen can play an important role in activating seed types such as grasses with deep roots that can survive prolonged drought.
“NordGen can support the development of Nordic plant breeding in order to cater for the long-term needs of agriculture and forestry, adaptation to climate change, environmental policy objectives, and consumer needs,” says Finnish State Secretary Jari Partanen.