Historical archive

New seed varieties to improve food security

Historical archive

Published under: Solberg's Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

‘We are in the midst of a food crisis, and flooding, drought and heatwaves are exacerbating the situation all across the world. Norway has now entered into a ten-year agreement with the Global Crop Diversity Trust to help to improve food security and provide more reliable harvests for vulnerable small-scale farmers in the face of more extreme weather,’ said Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein.

Climate change is causing more flooding, drought and heatwaves. This reduces global food security, and smallholder farmers in developing countries are at the greatest risk. Improving the genetic traits of seeds to make crops more climate resistant is key to ensuring food security. This is at the core of the Biodiversity for Opportunities, Livelihoods and Development (BOLD) project, which Norway is supporting. The agreement has a total budget of USD 58 million over a ten-year period.

‘It is completely unacceptable that close to one in ten people went hungry in 2020. More than 800 million people in the world do not know where their next meal is coming from. There are multiple ongoing crises: climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. Combined with the pandemic, they are amplifying the food crisis. The number of people going hungry is rising. We must reverse this trend,’ said Mr Ulstein.

‘In Madagascar, an extreme drought has brought over a million people to the brink of starvation. We need to better equip small-scale farmers to adapt their food production to the effects of climate change. It is the most vulnerable groups that are hit the hardest,’ said Mr Ulstein.

Norway launched an initiative to safeguard seed security during the UN Food Systems Summit. It is crucial for smallholder farmers to be able to choose the crop varieties they want to sow themselves. This means placing their needs at the core of the seed system, which is vital in terms of their rights and for ensuring food security. Norway’s support to the Crop Trust is viewed as part of the work under the new seed security initiative. 

Facts about BOLD

The Biodiversity for Opportunities, Livelihoods and Development (BOLD) project aims to conserve crop diversity and develop new crop varieties. The goal is to develop genetic traits that make crops more climate resilient, and to encourage smallholder farmers to use this seed in order to increase access to safe and nutritious food in the face of more extreme weather.

The BOLD project will provide support for 15 national gene banks in developing countries to conserve their crop diversity and thus safeguard regional food security. Safety duplicates of their seed collections will also be stored in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) is responsible for and will administer the agreement.