Crop imvement in Morocco

Photo credit: Icarda

The Marchouch research station near Rabat is host to a model crop improvement program.

Morocco: ICARDA research platform showcases model crop improvement program 

As changing climate, growing populations and diminishing natural resources worsen the challenges facing smallholder livelihoods and food security in dryland areas, developing improved crops that can keep pace with these demands is an ongoing mission for crop scientists. Morocco, one of ICARDA’s major research hubs for crop improvement, is leveraging the country’s diverse soils and climate conditions to develop crop production technologies for both high and low potential agroecosystems.
A visit to ICARDA’s research station at Marchouch near Rabat, held in conjunction with the 56th Board Meeting (May 2-6, 2015), provided an opportunity for ICARDA’s Board of Trustees to get a glimpse of the crop improvement program that is bolstering ICARDA’s mission and mandate of food security and improved livelihoods in dry areas, while supporting breeding programs the world over.
Highlights of ICARDA’s crop improvement program: 
Durum and bread wheat are core to food security and therefore, a major part of ICARDA’s crop improvement program at the Marchouch station. The program accomplishes this through global germplasm distribution from its international nurseries of durum and bread wheat, alongside breeding of new improved varieties with traits such as drought and heat tolerance, by screening thousands of landraces and cultivars.
These new varieties are tested and adapted with national partners in countries for release. Collaboration being key to successful adoption of innovative technologies, a durum wheat project phenotyping root systems for drought tolerance and boron toxicity is working with Senegal scientists to test and validate results in the soils of Senegal. The largely rice growing country is seeking suitable wheat technologies to be able to start wheat production. The project is simultaneously building national capacities by training six PhD students from Morocco, Algeria and Senegal, while benefiting from the young talent in its team.

Read the full article: Icarda

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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