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How well can Sweden feed itself during a war?

Braastad, Audun / TT
Credit: Braastad, Audun / TT.

Having sold off stockpiles and depending heavily on imports, agencies in Sweden are looking into how well the country could feed itself if there was a war or other crisis.

In December, at the behest of the government, the Board of Agriculture and the National Food Agency began investigating whether or not Sweden would be able to provide foodstuffs for citizens if major international transportation routes were suddenly cut off.

Therese Frisell, who works at the Food Agency, told Swedish Radio News that the food in supermarkets would run out quickly.

"You shouldn't think there will be some agency with a bag of food outside the door if something happens. Healthy individuals would be expected to take care of themselves for a few days," said Frisell. "Many people believe that we still have stockpiles, and that's not good."

Sweden did have food stockpiles for nearly 100 years beginning during World War I and continuing into the mid 90s. The food stocks were sold in 1995 when Sweden joined the EU. But only a year earlier there were nearly 200 stockpile buildings scattered around the country, often near railroad tracks.

"I worked with this around 1990," said Harald Svensson, now at the Board of Agriculture. "Our grain stocks were stored loose, so there were large bins that were several meters high. They were pretty big buildings."

Svensson said he didn't think that stockpiling would make a return.

"No, actually, I don't think so. We have tied ourselves to countries in the world in a completely different way now than after World War II."

Figures from the Board of Agriculture show that Sweden is slowly becoming more dependent on other countries for food. Today 61 percent of the meat Swedes consume is produced domestically; 15 years ago it was 80 percent.

Therese Friselll from the National Food Agency says Sweden's dependence on foreign foodstuffs is even greater.

"In rough terms we could say that we import half of what we eat today," she said.

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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