GIS - 27 November 2014: The experimental wheat cultivation project, launched since 2012 by the Mauritius Research Council (MRC), has entered Phase three with the upscaling of the project on 12 acres of land at Cluny. The project collaborators are Vita Rice Ltd and Rose Belle Sugar Estate.
A Wheat Harvest Ceremony was held yesterday at Le Val, Cluny, in the presence of the Minister of Tertiary Education, Science, Research and Technology, Dr Rajeshwar Jeetah, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Dr Arvin Boolell, the Minister of Local Government and Outer Islands, Mr Hervé Aimée, and the Minister of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives, Mr Jangbahadoorsing I. M. Seetaram.
Wheat and Rice are the most important staples that are imported in Mauritius for human consumption. Mauritius presently imports 100% of wheat stocks totalling around 165,000 tonnes and the price of wheat grains is estimated to be 450-500 US dollars/tonne. Given these conditions the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Science, Research and Technology has initiated with the MRC a study to evaluate the potential of local wheat cultivation in 2012.
The experimental wheat cultivation programme focuses on evaluating wheat cultivation under different agro climatic conditions in Mauritius; assessing yield and pest resistance as well as assessing quality for flour production.
The project started on three experimental plots in different agro-climatic regions around the island, namely at Montagne Blanche (Centre of the island), Saint Antoine (North of the island) and Savannah (South of the island). Six varieties of wheat were evaluated for their adaptability, yield potential, resistance to pest and disease and flour quality, and three best performing varieties were identified.
These three varieties were further evaluated in Petit Merlot in 2013 in collaboration with the Dairy Farm Cooperative Ltd of Petit Merlot. According to the MRC, the results were very promising in both 2012 and 2013 with an average yield of four tonnes/hectare of wheat grains obtained with the varieties under study.
The experiment was then upscaled from five acres in 2013 to 12 acres in 2014 at Le Val, Cluny in collaboration with Rose BelleSugar Estate and Vita Rice Ltd. The crop was sown in August 2014.
It is to be noted that post-harvest evaluations are scheduled in a bid to re-evaluate the project focus, develop new food products and community outreach, assess seed quality for new season wheat production and evaluate marketing options for human or livestock consumption. The MRC intends also to develop awareness of potential entrepreneurs and local community on the potential of wheat cultivation on broad-scale and cottage applications.
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