MOROCCO – Morocco’s Institute for Agricultural Research (NIAR) is making significant strides in developing new strains of grains, legumes, and oilseeds that are resilient to adverse climate conditions, aiming to boost production by 50%.

NIAR revealed the plan for this research program during a seminar held on Monday, May 14, at the Regional Agricultural Research Center in Kenitra.

During the seminar, NIAR highlighted the institute’s local scientific endeavors, which have led to the development of 30 to 50 new plant varieties tailored to address the climate-induced drop in agricultural yield.

Morocco has endured persistent heatwaves for years, adversely impacting agricultural yields in the North African nation.

Recently, the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) projected a significant spike in imports for Morocco’s 2024-25 season due to a severe drought that has severely impacted the country’s wheat and barley production.

According to FAS, rainfall has been below average since the end of January, slowing plant growth and development.

NIAR officials stated that the new varieties are specifically designed to meet the needs of Moroccan farmers, ensuring their efficiency.

Beyond research, the initiative extends to practical workshops aimed at educating farmers and professionals about the innovative features of these new plants.

The seminar offered professionals tangible insights into production techniques such as supplementary irrigation, which has shown promise in ensuring reliable yields through experimental trials in various regions.

Additionally, NIAR revealed that trial platforms are already set up in strategic locations such as Gharb, Saiss, Tadla, and Zayr.

Researchers at NIAR and the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) have dedicated over a decade to perfecting strains of drought-resistant grains.

The process involves rigorous experimentation and selection to ensure the resulting varieties not only survive but also thrive in harsh conditions, providing farmers with higher yields and better-quality crops.

Mouha Farahi, Head of the Genetic Improvement Department at NIAR, explained that variety development is a meticulous process involving hybridization and careful selection.

However, despite notable advancements, research into developing climate-resilient crops remains in the early stages.

These efforts align with the broader goals of Morocco’s Green Generation 2020-2030 initiative, which aims to bolster farmers’ incomes and establish a new agricultural middle class crucial for the nation’s food security.

Mohamed Sadiki, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Rural Development, Water, and Forests, stressed the importance of agricultural research in addressing the country’s drought-stricken agriculture.

He further highlighted the need to invest in scientific endeavors to develop resilient crop varieties and enhance productivity.

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