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.