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Morocco Field Day


ICARDA Morocco Country Office established in 1985 

Country manager: Ahmed Amri 



ICARDA’s work in Morocco is made possible through the support of the government of Morocco, CGIARR’s Research Program on Wheat, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), CGIAR Genebanks Platform, Global Crop Diversity Trust, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), CGIAR GENDER Platform, CGIAR Research Program on Livestock, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, International Fund For Agricultural Development (IFAD), Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD), OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), European Commission, Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA), and the World Bank.

Agriculture contributes about 20% of Morocco's gross domestic product (GDP), varying widely according to rainfall. The country has about 8.5 million ha of good agricultural land, of which nearly 90% is rainfed, while irrigated areas are still expanding . The agricultural sector in Morocco aims to ensure food security for the whole country, enable sustainable livelihoods for farm households, and contribute to natural resources conservation in the face of recurring droughts.  

The ICARDA-Morocco collaboration began in 1977 on research programs covering areas such as breeding of cereals and food legumes, integrated crop and livestock systems, water management, and capacity building.  

As one of ICARDA’s major research hubs for crop improvement and rainfed agriculture, Morocco offers diverse soils and climate conditions to develop crop production technologies for both high and low potential agroecosystems.  

Morocco is also the home of ICARDA’s groundbreaking Farming with Alternative Pollinators (FAP) project in which a strip of land next to staple crops is planted with marketable plants, along with the construction of a wild pollinator habitat. This creates an abundance of pollinators and pest enemies.  

Morocco ICARDA genebank with focus on conservation of cultivated species of barley, wheat, lentil and chickpea, a major hub for capacity development and a research platform for precision phenotyping for drought and heat tolerance.  

The Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique du Maroc (INRA-Morocco) has been ICARDA’s key partner among other Moroccan governmental institutions and universities. Several components of the program have been generously supported by AFESD, CGIAR Programs , Forum EuroMéditerranéen des Instituts de Sciences (FEMISE), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).  

The collaborations have seen strong development in germplasm exchange, integrated diseases and pest management,  natural resources management, water use efficiency, training, and exchange visits and publications.  


  • Efficient regeneration, characterization and conservation of genetic resources of cultivated species of cereals and food legumes. 

  • Strengthening of pre-breeding through introgression of useful traits from crop wild relatives and trait discovery through evaluation of genetic resources for major abiotic and biotic stresses and for good quality attributes.  

  • Breeding programs encompassing staple dryland crops such as wheat, barley, chickpea, faba bean, lentil, and Lathyrus (grass pea). 

  • Integrated diseases and pest management for diverse crops including for cactus cochineal. Crop management practices including the promotion of conservation agriculture, water use efficient and energy saving irrigation technologies, diversification of farming systems,  and farming with alternative pollinators. 

  • A crop science capacity strengthening partnership with INRA-Morocco, providing supervision, research and training opportunities for MSc and PhD researchers. 

  • A major training hub for organizing individual and group courses covering aspects related conservation and use of genetic resources, cereals and food legume breeding, integrated diseases and pest management, conservation agriculture, etc.  

  • Organization of international and regional conferences and provision of expertise in different areas. 



  • In the last ten years alone, more than 60 bread wheat varieties of ICARDA origin have been tested in Morocco then released across Central and West Asia, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa by national programs in these regions.  

  • The FAP approach results in crop yield increases of 100% or more, as well as producing marketable products such as oils and spices that cover the cost of the land used. Due to the success of the FAP approach, Morocco was the first Arab country to join the Coalition of The Willing on Pollinators and began the development of a cross-sector pollinator protection strategy. 

  • At the current average adoption level of 1.6 ha/family, each farm household obtains about 765.4 kg per year more wheat yield and 2,411 Moroccan dirham (US$280) per year. 

  • In 2019, ICARDA showed that food legume-cereal rotations have clear economic advantages over cereal monocropping in a study covering 21 major wheat-growing provinces in Morocco. The study demonstrated that adoption of rotations, as well as integrating ICARDA-improved faba bean varieties, led to a two-year average gross margin 48% higher than wheat monocropping, making rotations an economically beneficial option.  

  • The total holdings of ICARDA’s genebanks are 143,000 accessions: and around 103,000 barley, chickpea, lentil and wheat accessions are generated and conserved in Morocco genebank since 2015. 

  • IPM package was developed for the control of cochineal in cactus including biopesticides, research on natural enemies and identification and multiplication of eight resistant ecotypes. 

  • A 46-69% decrease in hydraulic energy used per unit volume of water was achieved by the ultra-low energy emitters. Industry standards of water distribution uniformity have been successfully maintained, with the ultra-low energy emitters showing uniformities (constant amount of water pumped) of 81–91%, compared to 87–96% for commercial emitters. 

  • Ultra-low energy drippers show significant energy savings compared to conventional drippers. Some sites reported approximately 70% savings in cumulative hydraulic energy per unit volume of water. 

  • A Young Agricultural Scientist Program has provided training for 34 young scientists, strengthening their knowledge and expertise across various areas related to wheat production systems – including the breeding of field crops, biotechnology, plant protection, and water and soil management. 

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