Vocational training to improve rain fed agricultural productivity in Morocco.
A Rotary Funded Program
Sept 2023 and February/March 2024
This project was made possible through the generous funding by way of a Global Grant from The Rotary Foundation, supplemented with District Designated Funds from Rotary District 9510 in South Australia (through the Rotary Club of Port Pirie) and contribution from The Rotary Club of Casablanca El Fida. We would also like to thank the many people who we visited and explored ideas with across both Australia and Morocco. They all gave their time willingly and enthusiastically to support the concept behind this project and help make it a success.
Team Members
Visiting Moroccan Team- Oussama El Gharras, Rachid Dahan, Abid Essadaoui, Abedelaziz (Aziz) Zine el Abidine, Hamid Zaz (Rotary Club of Casablanca El Fida)
Australian Team- Dr. Allan Mayfield, Barry Mudge (Rotary Club of Port Pirie)
Executive Summary
Similarities between the climates in North Africa and southern and western Australia have seen many collaborative agricultural projects in the past. There remains much we can learn from the cooperation between farmers and agricultural scientists in both communities. Australia has a well-developed farming system aimed at extracting maximum productivity from a low, variable and potentially declining rainfall. This project continued the historical cooperation by bringing a small team to Australia and then reciprocating with a visit to Morocco. Throughout the visits, the team members were exposed to a range of Australian innovations which could have applicability in Morocco. We summarised these learnings by noting some areas which we see as having the potential to improve productivity in North African non-irrigated mixed farming;
 •             Developing a local protocol for measuring WUE and applying this more widely within research programs. A necessary part of this could be to broaden knowledge of soil water characteristics on widely varying soil types. Australia has very good expertise in this area and would be able to assist.
•              Support the wider availability and use of historical climate records to aid farmer decision making. The authors accept their poor knowledge of how the weather recording systems operate in Morocco but see strong advantages in working at an institutional level to improve access.
•              Increased focus on soil water balance in crop sequencing. More trials on the effect of fallow weeds on soil water and nitrogen carry-over to the subsequent crop and the potential benefit of removing these weeds (perhaps by chemical means) earlier.
•              Extension support for the adoption of fodder mixes (cereal/legume) in the rotation to improve nitrogen balance, weed control and retention of soil water prior to the cereal phase.
•              The use of lower seed rates is also supported.
•              Testing of the yield benefit of the use of press wheels in the seeding process to obtain more even depth of cover and to create a furrow for moisture harvesting.
•              Research and testing of the logistical and economic benefits of increased mechanisation of harvesting, particularly grain legumes. Including the use of steel rollers after seeding to better prepare the soil surface for hay or harvest.
•              More testing of current or potentially innovative chemicals for weed control in rotation crops such as legumes and canola.
•              Greater emphasis on developing protocols for on-farm retention of seeds to allow wider and quicker adoption of improved varieties.
•              Investigate training opportunities for Moroccan agriculturalists to improve skills to increase crop water use efficiency systems.
We remain enthusiastic about maintaining collaboration between Moroccan and Australian farmers and scientists for the mutual benefit of