Agricultural researchers in Senegal have begun harvesting an experimental crop of local wheat, adapted to the country’s climatic conditions, the latest stage in a project begun several years ago to reduce dependence on imports.
The second most consumed cereal after rice, wheat is an important part of the diet in this bread-loving West African country. But Senegal, like many of its neighbors, is entirely dependent on foreign imports: it imports 800,000 tonnes of cereals a year.
In principle, its tropical climate is unsuitable for growing wheat, but acclimatization trials are underway.
Since the end of last week, researchers from the Institut sénégalais de recherche agricole (ISRA) have been harvesting four varieties of wheat from an experimental plot in Sangalkam, 35 km from Dakar.
Three of the varieties come from Egypt, while a fourth was developed by the Institute, which has tested hundreds of wheat varieties, Amadou Tidiane Sall, one of the Institute’s researchers, told AFP.
Agriculture Minister Aly Ngouille Ndiaye visited the plot earlier this month. He said he had requested Egyptian seeds during a visit to the North African country for the United Nations climate conference (COP27) in November.
“We have great potential,” said the Minister during his visit. He acknowledged, however, that the lack of water to irrigate crops was a major challenge.
Amadou Gaye, president of Senegal’s National Federation of Bakers, which represents some 2,500 bakeries in the country, told AFP that he would prefer resources to be devoted to the production of local cereals such as millet, corn or sorghum.