Senegal Tests Egyptian Wheat Varieties


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Senegalese researchers have begun harvesting a crop of experimental homegrown Wheat, the latest step in a long effort to reduce reliance on imports. The second-most consumed cereal after rice, Wheat is an essential staple in the bread-loving West African nation. But Senegal, like many of its neighbors, depends entirely on foreign supplies. It imports 800,000 metric tons of grain per year. The current population of Senegal is 18 million as of April 28, 2023. Its tropical climate is not naturally suited to Wheat, but domestic trials have been underway for years. Supply chain problems, rising grain prices, and inflation caused by the war in Ukraine have added urgency to the country’s efforts to achieve self-sufficiency.

Since early April, researchers from the Senegalese Institute for Agricultural Research, a public research institute, have been harvesting four Wheat varieties on a demonstration plot in Sangalkam, 35 kilometers from the capital Dakar. Three of the varieties are Egyptian, and the institute developed the fourth. It operates five demonstration plots in total, two near Dakar and three in the Senegal River Valley. It has tested hundreds of Wheat varieties, Amadou Tidiane Sall, one of the researchers, said.

Unfortunately, many have proved unsuitable. The Sangalkam crop, one of several successful experiments by the institute, was sown in early January and matured in three months during Senegal’s cold season. Agriculture Minister Aly Ngouille Ndiaye visited the plot in early April. He said he had requested Egyptian seeds on a visit to the North African country for the United Nations COP27 climate conference in November.

“We have significant potential,” the Minister said during his visit, promising the Government would work with the private sector to expand trial plots. He acknowledged that a lack of adequate water for irrigation posed a significant challenge. Not everyone is convinced that Wheat can be grown at scale in Senegal. Amadou Gaye, the President of the National Federation of Bakers of Senegal, who represents about 2,500 bakeries across the country, said he would prefer to see resources dedicated to producing local cereals such as millet, corn, and sorghum.

At the second edition of the Olam Green Land Webinar Series, organized quarterly to drive the growth of the Wheat value chain, Dr. Amadou Tiadane Sall, a durum Wheat expert from the Senegalese Institute for Agricultural Research, shared some insights on Wheat cultivation in Senegal. According to him, in 2017, there was zero Wheat produced in Senegal, but through the adoption of a community-based, peer-to-peer seed production methodology, such as CFM and LCRI have adopted in the Seeds for the Future project, over 2,000 smallholder Wheat farmers now produce Wheat successfully in the West Africa nation with similar climatic conditions as Nigeria. “Like Nigeria, Senegal is a strong consumer of Wheat-derivative foods. Between 2015 and 2020, the country’s Wheat imports increased from 573,435 tons to 900,000 tons.

Senegal Tests Egyptian Wheat Varieties

Wheat Trade in Senegal

According to the AgFlow data, France shipped 123,500 tons of Wheat to Senegal in Q1 2023, followed by Latvia (86,455 tons), Brazil (28,357 tons), and Lithuania (9,000 tons). In 2021, Senegal imported Wheat worth $309 million, becoming the 48th largest importer of Wheat in the world. In the same year, Wheat was Senegal’s 6th most imported product. Senegal imports Wheat primarily from: Russia ($185 million), France ($67.6 million), Argentina ($27.8 million), Lithuania ($13.2 million), and Bulgaria ($6.1 million).

In 2021, Senegal exported Wheat worth $3.19 million, making it the world’s 55th largest exporter of Wheat. In the same year, Wheat was Senegal’s 106th most shipped product. The leading destination of Wheat exports from Senegal is Mali ($3.19 million).

Other sources: AFRICA BRIEFING

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