MAURITANIA – The Mauritania Ministry of Agriculture have announced the success of the first wheat cultivation experiment over an area of ​​200 hectares.

This project was carried out as part of a public-private partnership between the National Society for Rural Development (SONADER), Timar group, operating in logistics and warehousing, and the Biladi Company for Agricultural and Animal Production

The trial focused on the cultivation of two varieties of wheat which made it possible to obtain yields estimated between 4 and 5 tonnes per hectare.

Speaking on the subject, Isselmou Ould Sid El Mokhtar, regional delegate of the Ministry of Agriculture in the Trarza region, believes that this result paves the way for the emergence of a local sector.  

“The prospects for wheat cultivation in Mauritania are very promising. The environmental requirements are not high compared to those of rice and wheat does not require special development operations, except on clay soils, underlined the manager.

In addition, he expressed optimism about the new crop, highlighting that the new crop will not be hit by diseases for years, even decades of repeated cultivation.

The successful cultivation of wheat on Mauritanian soil not only holds promise for bolstering domestic food production but also presents opportunities for reducing reliance on wheat imports. The country imports almost all of its wheat needs.

According to FAO data, in the past five years, Mauritania’s imports of Grains covered up to 80 percent of the national consumption requirements, with about 50 percent of Wheat imports coming from the Black Sea Region, mainly Ukraine.

In 2022, FAO reports that the country purchased more than 750,000 tonnes of wheat worth more than $322 million on the international market.

This high Grain import dependency makes the country highly vulnerable to the supply shock associated with the war in Ukraine.

In 2021, Mauritania imported Wheat worth $172 million, becoming the world’s 63rd most significant importer of Wheat. In the same year, Wheat was the 2nd most imported product in Mauritania, according to AgFlow data.

In the 2021/22 marketing year (November/October), Grain import requirements were estimated at 520,000 tons, near the previous year’s level and about 18 percent below the five-year average. This included 405,000 tons of Wheat and Wheat flour.

However, last year, FAO estimated aggregate cereal production at 564,000 tonnes, 4 percent higher on a yearly basis and 35 percent above the five-year average.

Therefore, the Mauritanian experience is a testament that should be placed in a sub-regional context where certain countries are making efforts to develop a local wheat sector and reduce imports despite unfavourable biophysical conditions. 

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