The need for utilizing new tools to address drought management, herbicide tolerance, marker assisted selection (MAS) to assist overall crop improvement, inclusion of groundnut and initiating a research student exchange program were some of the plans discussed for Phase II of the project under the Morocco-India Food Legumes Initiative (MIFLI).

The need to enhance south-south collaboration among Moroccan institutes and ICRISAT-Africa was emphasized by Dr Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director Grain Legumes and Director, Centre of Excellence in Genomics (CEG), ICRISAT. He was addressing the Moroccan delegation that visited ICRISAT-India for the project review.

Dr SA Patil, Advisor, OCP Foundation, identified the most important outputs of the project as: Establishment of rural seed enterprise (seed systems) to supply farmers with farmer-preferred variety seed at reasonable prices, and Improved agronomic practice – dibbling method of sowing – to enhance productivity.

Other points raised by Mr Roudies Sidi Nawfel, Director and Mr Rouini Imadeddine, Project Manager, Agricultural Development Program, OCP Foundation:

Increasing the capacity of project farmers in hybrid seed production to meet seed demand.

Mechanization of crop production activities to mitigate drudgery, particularly for women farmers handling these crops from sowing to harvesting.

Research student exchange program
The visiting delegation proposed the inclusion of a research student exchange program to enhance the country’s capacities in biotechnology for crop improvement, in Phase II of the project.

The proposed exchange program will consider student researchers pursuing both degree courses as well as vocational and technical training in Morocco to pursue their research in ICRISAT and other Indian universities.

In April 2015, at a legume monitoring workshop to be held in Morocco, Indian researchers will identify avenues for strengthening legume research collaborations between India and Morocco.

Apart from OCP Foundation officials, the delegation included heads of Moroccan agriculture institutes – Dr Dahan Rachid, Secretary-General, National Institute of Agricultural Research of Morocco; Dr Ouaattar Said, Director, Hassan II Agronomy & Veterinary Institute; and Dr Amiri Said, Academic Director, National School of Agriculture, Meknes.
The delegation visited ICRISAT-India on 6 February.

This work was undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes

Adapted from ICRISAT Happenings