A combination of private and public initiatives in plant breeding has ensured a long-term perspective, knowledge level and technological focus resulting in the continuous development of new plant varieties suited to the Nordic region’s unique climate.
Plant growth is largely controlled by a combination of light and temperature. This entails the adoption of a circumpolar perspective with regard to plant breeding. The Nordic countries constitute a unit within this geographical zone; a unit in which we find a sustainable agricultural community making significant contributions in the areas of food security, climate and social economics. One of the key factors behind the success of Nordic agriculture is plant breeding. The practical agriculturist has had access to a wide range of varieties, making it possible to invest in agriculture in a way that utilises resources and provides a social product for the common good.
Fundamentally speaking, the Nordic countries share a common philosophy and reasoning in the practice of agriculture. Collaboration and co-operation are valued; we have open societies that exchange knowledge and information; and we all share an ideal of equality as a crucial pillar in the often-cited Nordic social model.
In spite of geographical challenges imposed by large distances, small agricultural units and high cost levels in comparison to larger agricultural zones, the Nordic countries have developed a strong and dynamic agriculture. Collaboration and a sensible and future-oriented utilisation of the resource base is an obvious reason. Individual countries, agricultural housing units, co-operatives, research and educational institutions can be small in themselves, but collaboration has resulted in a unique strength.
Within the fields of plant breeding and plant sciences, the responsibility for and development of new plant varieties has become increasingly monopolised by large multinationals on an international scale. This development is a threat to the ability of the Nordic countries to use and develop the knowledge base and technology required to meet our national and regional needs in the areas of food security, climate measures and economic and social development.
This was the background to the first initiatives started about ten years ago resulting in the Public-Private Partnership for Pre-Breeding (PPP).This has evolved into an extremely successful collaborative project for – and between – the Nordic countries.
The purpose of PPP is to secure the development of plants for the Nordic countries, and ensure that these plants can continue to deliver popular and healthy produce, adapt to the anticipated climate changes and make a positive contribution to the new bioeconomic era.
Graminor is actively involved in three PPP projects. In summary, experience in the form of networking and knowledge development, as well as capacity and synergy building, has been positive. The EU has evaluated the Nordic PPP collaboration as a model for the development of future collaborations between research and plant breeding institutes.
The Nordic Council of Ministers is the initiator and “owner” of the projects, but plant breeding companies, universities and governments based in the Nordic countries are jointly responsible for their financing and results.
Norway holds the presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2017. Work on the continuation of the PPP initiative is underway following the conclusion of the first project period at the end of 2017. We hope and believe that this type of collaboration will be valued, and would also like to see an emphasis on the Nordic plant breeding collaboration during the period of the Norwegian presidency.