Sugarcane move over
With the first wheat of the season harvested yesterday, the next baguette you have may just be of Mauritian origin. Having crossed this critical milestone, Mauritius is now moving closer to self-sufficiency in food production.
With the first wheat of the season harvested yesterday, the next baguette you have may just be of Mauritian origin. And, with a staple food crop entering into the agricultural sector, multi-crop agriculture looks set to replace monoculture in Mauritius.
Having crossed this critical milestone, Mauritius is now moving closer to self-sufficiency in food production. To give an idea of the island nation’s wheat consumption, the local flourmill processes 165,000 tons of wheat into 100,000 tons of flour each year.
The Mauritius Research Council (MRC) is now well into the second phase of its Experimental Wheat Cultivation project and the harvest ceremony held yesterday at Petit Merlot in Midlands was a turning point of the project. Bearing testimony to the innovativeness of the project, the Minister of Tertiary Education, Science, Research and Technology, Rajeshwar Jeetah, graced the occasion.
Jeetah stated that Mauritius imports as much as 70% of its food requirements, with rice and wheat being the most important staple foods. He said that Mauritius’s dependence on food imports, coupled with volatile food prices, has made it absolutely necessary to embark on innovation in the agricultural arena.
Jeetah added that his ministry and the MRC will work together to devise new schemes to encourage entrepreneurs, and especially women entrepreneurs, to join this endeavour. He added that though wheat cultivation in Mauritius is in an early phase of experimentation, it will not be long before Mauritius will develop the required technology and will soon be exporting its technological know-how to other countries.
Initiated in June 2012, the first phase of the experimental wheat cultivation project focused on evaluating wheat cultivation under different agro-climatic conditions, determining the highest yielding wheat variety under study and assessing the quality of the flour obtained. The results were promising with an average yield of four tons per hectare of wheat grains obtained from all six varieties under study.
Under Phase II of the project, the three best varieties from Phase I have been sown from June 2013 on nine acres of land in Saint Aubin, Saint Antoine and Petit Merlot.
Moving forward, a more in-depth laboratory analysis of the wheat harvested in Phase II will be performed in order to validate previous results. After harvest, the wheat will be processed into flour and the flour quality evaluated.
Source: Government of Mauritius