Norway Again Stockpiling Grain, Citing Pandemic, War, Climate Change

The deal would store 30,000 tons of grain this year and next.

Farmers harvest a grain field near Wernigerode, Germany.
Farmers harvest a grain field near Wernigerode, Germany.
AP Photo/Matthias Schrader

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) β€” The Norwegian government on Tuesday signed a deal to start stockpiling grain, saying the COVID-19 pandemic, a war in Europe and climate change have made it necessary.

The deal to store 30,000 tons of grain in 2024 and 2025 was signed by agriculture and food minister Geir Pollestad, finance minister Trygve Slagsvold Vedum and four private companies. The wheat, which will belong to the Norwegian government, will be stored in already existing facilities by the companies in facilities across the country. Three of the companies will store at least 15,000 tons this year.

Norway has 5.6 million people.

Last year, the Scandinavian nation said it would spend 63 million kroner ($6 million) per year on stocking up on grain.

Norway had stored grain in the 1950s but closed down its storage sites in 2003 after deciding they were no longer needed.

However, following Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Norway set up a commission to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of its emergency preparedness systems which recommended stockpiling grain products.

The oil-rich country, which has supported Ukraine, also 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 human-caused or natural calamities.

The Norwegian government funded the construction cost, while an international nonprofit organization pays for operational costs.