MANHATTAN, KANSAS, US — Kansas Wheat recently hosted a team of young millers and commodity buyers from the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region as part of a US Wheat Associates initiative to showcase US wheat production and facilitate long-term relationships with overseas partners. 

The team from Morocco, Algeria, Egypt and Oman spent time learning about hard red winter wheat production, visiting research facilities and meeting with leading wheat researchers as part of a 12-day tour of Idaho, Kansas and North Dakota. Kansas Wheat said in a press release that its staff regularly participates in these programs, and the MENA team visited Kansas from July 17-20.

At the USDA Center for Grain and Animal Health Research, the team discussed how USDA scientists in the Hard Winter Wheat Genetics Unit focus on different diseases that affect the wheat plant, including leaf rust, stem rust or fusarium head blight. They also discussed how both basic and applied research help ensure a high-quality US grain supply by evaluating the end-use of breeding lines through biochemical and physical characterization.

The team toured the Grain Science Complex on the north campus of Kansas State University, including the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center, IGP Institute and Hal Ross Flour Mill. Participants received an overview of how US wheat classes are graded, including a hands-on grading practicum. The team also visited Research Productions Co. in Salina, which provides innovative ideas, services and products for the milling and baking industries.

Taking advantage of market opportunities in the Middle East/North African region requires a long-term commitment to building relationships within the industries of individual markets, like the up-and-coming leaders of the young millers team. As part of this work, USW organizes in-person tours to the United States to provide firsthand insights into the current year’s wheat harvest. Kansas Wheat staff regularly participates in these programs to provide personalized information to each market and receive feedback directly from customers. 

Speaking to Kansas Wheat, Tarik Gahi, milling and baking technologist in the USW office in Casablanca, Morocco, who accompanied the team, said these millers represent their family businesses and are exposed to the US grain marketing system at a young age.

“Visits to different states on this trip were an opportunity to introduce different classes of US wheat and learn about efforts implemented by organizations and facilities to produce the best quality wheat," Gahi said.