Mauritanian govt lauds wheat project for introducing improved varieties into the country

The Mauritanian government has commended the SARD-SC wheat project for introducing improved wheat varieties into the country. The  high  yielding wheat variety, introduced by the project, known as    Norman,  is capable of  producing up to 6.3t/ha and  this   has   greatly  improved  the  cultivation and  production of   wheat in  Mauritania where it is  considered very  important  to their  diet. As a result of this development, the   government has registered the new wheat variety in their national catalogue in 2015.

The SARD-SC   wheat project  was  also lauded for  ensuring  on -farm  testing and  demonstration of  these  varieties  and  building the capacity of   researchers  and  extension officers in the  country.

The Prime Minister  of the  country, Mr.Yahya Ould Hademine   eulogized   ICARDA and  the SARD-SC  wheat project  for  the varietal  improvement of wheat  generated  by   the  project’s  technological innovations  during a national  conference   on  Competitiveness of Rice  and Development  of Wheat Production in Mauritania held by the Direction de la Recherche de la  formation et  du conseil  Agricole (DRFCA),Mauritania, in partnership with the SARD-SC  wheat project. The conference took place in Nouakchott, Mauritania in November 2015.

Mr.Yahya Ould Hademine   made  the  remarks at  the  conference     attended by   top  government officials  who included the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Mrs. Naha Mint Moknass, Minister of Agriculture, Mrs. Lemina  Mint El Ghotob Ould Moma,  and  representatives of   various  international organizations    and national institutions in the  country. In his opening  remarks, the Prime minster  emphasized  the  strategic  importance  of  rice and  wheat  commodities for  enhancing  food  security in  the country and  pledged  government  full support  to expand  wheat  production in the  to  enhance  national  food  security and  reduce  dependence  on increasing  wheat  imports. He urged  the  over   150 participants  to develop  a strategy to  expand  current  wheat area(now <5,000 ha) and  increase  wheat  production in    order to  meet the  growing  needs of Mauritanians for the  commodity.

Mr. Ahmed Salem el Marrakchi, DRFCA Director, headed the wheat group at the meeting comprising of 50 people, mainly regional DRFCA extension officers, a governor, researchers and a number of staff  from other  departments of the Ministry of Agriculture.  He  stated   wheat  was  very important  in the Mauritanian  diet and contrasted it  to the  very limited  area  the  commodity  is  grown in the  country. While  lauding  the  activities of the SARD-SC  wheat  project in the  country, Mr. El Marrakchi    specifically  mentioned  the introduction of  ‘the high yielding  wheat  variety(Norman) which is capable of producing  up  to 6.3t/ha,  which  has been registered in the national catalogue in 2015.”

Major constraints to  wheat  production were  discussed  by the wheat stakeholders  group  and  solutions  were proffered with inputs  from ICARDA scientists and  other participants.  Some of the constraints were general lack of farmers knowledge  in wheat production techniques, lack of  improved  seed  and necessary machinery  for sowing  and harvesting,  weed and birds attack.  The  group  discussed  the current season’s  workplan,  including the  establishment  and  active operationalization  of the  two Innovations platforms, one  for the irrigated  areas in the Traza region and  one for the  rainfed  areas or water  receding lands  in the Tagnant  region.

The SARD-SC wheat  project   provided  two  tons of improved  seed  of Norman and Attila-Gan-Attila  wheat varieties  to the Mauritanian  team as part   of contributions to the  preparation  the Regional DRFCA staff  were making  for planting  these and other  improved  varieties in the nearest future.

The ministers of  Commerce, industry  and Agriculture, Mrs. Lemina Mint El Ghotob Ould  Moma and Naha Mint Moknass  respectively,  pledged  to support   both the  rice and wheat  groups  who presented their  recommendations  at  the  closing session of  the conference  headed by the   women.

The main focus  of   the  wheat group  was  to build  the capacity of  farmers   to produce high  yielding  wheat, for quality wheat  end –use,  develop mechanization and  establish  win-win  relations among  its  value chain stakeholders. The objective is to successfully expand a sustainable wheat production in target irrigated and  rainfed  areas in the  future.

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