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How would Sweden manage its food supplies in a crisis?

Published måndag 12 december 2016 kl 10.08
Milk farmer Thomas Bäck explains to Swedish Radio how he would deliver milk in a crisis.
Milk farmer Thomas Bäck explains to Swedish Radio how he would deliver milk in a crisis. Credit: Oskar Lodin / Sveriges Radio

Swedish food production could almost be wiped out in the event of a war, says a study examining how the country would manage its food supplies in the event of a crisis.

The deteriorating security situation prompted the government last spring to resume work within civil defence to prepare for a crisis. In agriculture, no contingency plans have been in place since the end of the Cold War, reports Swedish Radio.

Camilla Eriksson, a researcher at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, is involved in a project assessing whether Sweden has the capacity to produce food in a crisis.

She tells Swedish Radio that modern farming practices, such as increased specialization, commodity production, high-tech equipment and information technology have created new vulnerabilities in the food supply chain.

"The knowledge of how we would manage food supplies in the event of a crisis in Sweden is very limited today," she says.

The project is reviewing the vulnerabilities of different production systems: such as large-scale, small-scale, organic, conventional, labour-intensive or machine-intensive farming.

It is also looking at the affects on food production from fuel shortages, power outages and a stop in feed imports.

The government's civil defence review has also provoked concern in several municipalities over costs.

Several municipalities believe that the government is making unreasonable demands on them to protect residents in time of war, reports newspaper Sydsvenskan.

"This costs money that does not exist," says council security manager Jonas Hult of Malmö municipality. "We do not know what the state wants us to do," says Håkan Nilsson in the municipality of Landskrona.

They were responding to a list of demands from the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) that municipalities increase security measures, such as taking part in defence exercises.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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