In an effort to train the next generation of farmers, an ICARDA-managed project has targeted the sons of Moroccan farmers with capacity development initiatives, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to overcome production constraints and boost their yields. In a country where youth unemployment remains persistently high, the trainings have the potential to raise household incomes and improve the employment prospects of young producers.
The courses – practical and theoretical – were held in the al-Hilal Cooperative, located within the Rabat Sale-Zemmour-Zaer region, and targeted effective crop management and techniques to tackle debilitating pests that routinely constrain production in Morocco: weeds, root and foliar diseases, and insects.
Led by experts from Morocco’s Institut National de la RechercheAgronomique (INRA) and ICARDA, the trainings provided an opportunity for researchers to establish networks with younger farmers, thereby initiating a long-term and continuous program of mentoring and supervision. In total, around 60 young farmers participated in the courses.
The courses were wide-ranging, an approach taken to counter the multiple threats confronting cereal and legume production in Morocco. The techniques and technologies promoted included the maintenance and calibration of herbicide treatment equipment to control foliar diseases; the maintenance and calibration of fungal treatment equipment; the appropriate application of pesticide; soils analyses and conservation agriculture; seed technologies; and storage techniques for cereals and legumes.
The training complemented other activities that the Project is implementing in Morocco, notably the dissemination of new wheat varieties, integrated pest management, and conservation agriculture – the practice of not plowing farmlands and leaving crop residue in the field for improved soil fertility and water conservation.