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Not Everyone is Convinced that Wheat can be Grown at Scale in Senegal

Senegalese researchers have begun harvesting a crop of experimental homegrown wheat, the latest step in a yearslong effort to reduce reliance on imports. The second-most consumed cereal after rice, wheat is an important 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 the grain per year. 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 late last week, researchers from the Senegalese Institute for Agricultural Research, a public research institute, have been harvesting four varieties of wheat on a demonstration plot in Sangalkam, 35 kilometers from the capital Dakar. Three of the varieties are Egyptian and the fourth was developed by the institute. 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.