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Finnish farms look to caraway

Finland's eternal quest for the next big export hit rarely looks at agriculture—and that might be an oversight. The country is one of the biggest exporters of caraway worldwide—and for some farmers it's a nice little earner.

Image: Jenny Huttunen / Yle

The Finnish climate might seem inhospitable at times, but it does have some positive sides in agriculture. One surprising Finnish hit product is caraway: the long, light summer nights are a boon for growers of the spice, which in these climes packs more flavour and has more essential oils than elsewhere.

That makes Finnish caraway sought after on the world market--and that's a big boost when Finnish farmers are suffering as Russian counter-sanctions bite into their usual export markets.

"It's been a marginal crop for a long time," says farmer Anders Abrahamsson of Kimitöön. "Now that there are hard times in grain production, caraway is showing its strength," he says.

Exports to Europe, America and India

Caraway has been grown in Finland since the early 1990s but it's only in recent years that producers have seen its value as a complement to grain cultivation and increased their production. The country now supplies around 30 percent of the worldwide caraway crop. Finnish caraway is mostly exported to Europe, North America and India.

Altogether there are more than 20,000 hectares of caraway planted in Finland, across 1,500 farms—and there could be room for more, but Abrahamsson says it's not a sure-fire lottery win.

"We are not the only ones in the world to grow it and we're not the only ones in the world to realise that it's profitable," says Abrahamsson. "It really depends on the situation in the rest of the world. As an export product, price fluctuations can be quite big."

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