Greenland’s farmers plant hope in climate change

Farmers in southern Greenland have spoken about the benefits of global warming, as the biggest block of ice since the sixties breaks off the country’s northwest coast. According to researchers at a US university, an ice sheet measuring 260-sq kilometres – the largest since 1962 – detached itself from the Petermann Glacier in Greenland this week.

But the rapidly changing climate is not all bad, according to Sky News, which reports that the shift is opening up new opportunities for the country’s agriculture industry. Historically dependent on government subsidies and imported food from Europe, the warmer temperatures are allowing Greenland to become more self-sufficient by providing the right conditions for growing fruit, vegetables and livestock feed in the south.

Joorut Knudsen, 29, who owns a sheep farm in Qassiarsuk, told Sky News that he has been able to double the size of his herd over the last four years, adding that if conditions continue to improve, he will be able to do the same again.

“It is warmer,” he said. “It would help us if it (got) warmer and warmer in south Greenland so we could have more farming. We have the tractors, cutting machines, and equipment just like Europe so we just need bigger farms, more land, and of course, more rain.”

Like many young farmers in his country, Joorut travelled to Norway and Denmark for his agricultural education and was helped to buy machinery by Greenland’s Government. It is hoped that this new generation of farmers will bring prosperity to the nation with the help of modern equipment and innovative techniques.

Greenland’s agricultural advisor Aqqalooraq Frederiksen told Sky News that it is important for the economy that the country grows its own food. “The vegetables here are very expensive; they are importing most of them by aeroplane. Fresh vegetables and the other vegetables, they are imported by ship, and are not so fresh when they arrive. So that is why it is very good for Greenland to produce its own fresh and cheaper vegetables,” he said.

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