Wheat production in the highlands of Guatemala and the exodus of Guatemalan world class scientists.
Scientists of ICTA, (Instituto de Ciencia y Technologia Agricolas), Institute for Agricultural Science and Technology in Guatemala, stated that the growing demand of wheat on the world markets, combined with the increased prices of the product provide favorable conditions to promote the cultivation of wheat for the local markets.
However to increase the current low profits, new seeds have to be developed and introduced. That requires resources from the government or international cooperation. It takes about 3 years to develop new seeds.
It is true what the Miller association said, about the kind of wheat they need for the normal baking. But the Guatemalan wheat can be use for other food production like noodles. And the dark flour - harina negra - is fantastic to make whole grain bread European style.
20 years ago the Guatemalan Highlands had their highest wheat production, since then the local production of this basic grain has fallen due to import of cheaper and better quality wheat from the USA. How can Guatemalan grain producers compete with subsidized farmers from the USA? Impossible.
The Guatemalan Miller's association and changes in legislation have had a very key role in this phenomenon.
The production of basic grains with improved technology, in a more cost efficient way is fundamental to the basic food safety of the country. Institutions like ICTA and INCAP (Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama), have in the past generated world class technological innovations in agriculture and food security. They where world famous research institutions. In the eighties many world renowned scientists and Nobel laureates collaborated with ICTA and other agricultural institutions in Guatemala.The brains in these institutions where part of the most precious human capital of Guatemala. There are still some left.
The reduction in funding introduced since Alvaro Arzus´ government and followed by similar measures by Oscar Berger's government and their vision of privatization, has created the biggest exodus of highly qualified and experienced world class Guatemalan scientists from national istitutions. They had to leave Guatemala to make a decent living for their families. Two whole generations of PhD's left the country. The impact on the technological development for Guatemala has been devastating in all technical areas.
No country can be developed without investment in science, technology and education. The human capital is the main essential resource for the development of every country in this world.Photo: Hans Hillewaert; Painting public domain