20 wheat varieties to be tested locally – Minister Mustapha

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, M.P, said Government will commence the first trial of 20 wheat varieties before the end of May, as an effort to further diversify Guyana’s food sector.  

Cultivation for the initial trial phase is expected to begin at the Burma Rice Research Station, Region Five and the project will be led by scientist, Dr. Mahendra Persaud.

His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali recently announced government’s plan to explore the possibility of sourcing a variety of wheat for local production. The Head of State said the government is unwavering in its quest to build a Guyana that is resilient, and meets not only its national responsibility, but plays an important role in its global responsibility.

Speaking on the sideline of his hamper distribution exercise to 170 fisherfolk at the Lusignan Community Centre Ground, East Coast Demerara, on Wednesday, Minister Mustapha explained that the rice research station will be used as the testing location since it has adequate land space. The climatic condition has to also be taken into account.

“We are in contact with our counterpart in especially Mexico. We are looking at a different variety of wheat. I am hoping by the end of this month or by next month latest, we can have the first trial with about 15 to 20 varieties to see the best one that can be grown in Guyana,” the minister told journalists.

The ministry is also examining the possibility of establishing nurseries at strategic locations across the country to test for better growing results. The plan is to have the technical officers assess which of the varieties are better grown here. 

The agriculture minister said the approach to introduce the new food commodity to Guyana’s soil, shows government’s determination to ensure the nation becomes self-sufficient.

“We are very determined that as long as it is successful; we will be going to produce our own wheat because we can’t depend too much on imports. As a country, we have to ensure we produce our own food and be self-sufficient … we can have all the money in the world and we have seen during the pandemic how many countries are suffering to get food. We in Guyana are very fortunate that we produce most of the food,” the minister added.  

The surge in wheat and other commodity prices is a result of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. Both states account for about 30 percent of the world’s traded wheat.