Northern Cereals – New Markets for a Changing Environment (CEREAL)

Warmer growing conditions, improved varieties and technologies, and concerns about sustainability are creating new opportunities in northern areas for greater cereal production. There are strong indications that climate change will increase the potential for food production in the northern regions and also increase the pressure to expand food production at higher latitudes. In few areas, it has already been possible to produce higher value cereals for milling and malting which has allowed SMEs to develop new “local” products to meet a growing demand from tourists and residents.

Across the partnership, each region brings its own expertise to the project, and since no single partner has the full range of cereal expertise, knowledge transfer is crucial for the project to support cereal development across the partnership. Orkney has a strong background in the production of barley for malting and spirits and good links with other Scottish organisations. Northern Norway benefits from barley research in Southern Norway. Knowledge transfer from south to north within Norway through courses and communications opens new possibilities for Northern Norway and other partners. Iceland provides barley varieties which are suitable for northern regions after breeding for more than 40 years. This transnational cooperation makes the Cereal project unique.

The challenge faced is to help all partners benefit from these opportunities while taking into account the different levels of development of cereal cultivation across the partner regions. Partners had earlier cooperated under a NORA project to compare barley varieties in field experiments. The NPA project strengthens this collaboration, creating economic benefits for remote regions.

The project addresses a number of challenges and opportunities identified by the NPA programme. It attempts to help farmers to adjust to climate change and increase sustainability by greater local production. The project also helps remote regions by knowledge transfer between and within countries.

The project objectives are to increase cereal growing in the partner areas and to increase the growing of higher value cereals for local food and beverage products. The main outputs from the project will be increased numbers of farmers growing cereals for feed, malting or milling and the production of higher value cereal products like seed, malt, food and beverages. These changes will increase employment, income and consumer choice in rural areas. The main beneficiaries will be growers, end-users (mainly SMEs), local communities and consumers.