Tuesday, December 17, 2019 — Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco — In an effort to strengthen capacities in the critical areas of agronomy, soil fertility mapping, diagnostic laboratory testing, irrigation, and export market development; a delegation of agriculture experts from the OECS visited the Kingdom of Morocco during the period of November 27 to December 13, 2019.
The group, comprising senior personnel from the Ministries of Agriculture of Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, had the opportunity to exchange knowledge and expertise with Moroccan agriculture officers and scientists.
During their time in Morocco, the agriculture delegation visited several fruit and vegetable production sites, processing facilities, and laboratories, in addition to participating in classroom-style sessions led by experts from the Moroccan Ministry of Agriculture.
At a meeting held on Monday, December 10th 2019 at the Embassies of Eastern Caribbean States (ECS Embassies), members of the Caribbean delegation commented on the value and expertise gained from their newfound familiarisation with Morocco’s approach to developing their agricultural sector. Some of the group’s early observations included how the Moroccan government has been able to significantly increase private sector participation in agriculture by softening risk through the development of effective incentive schemes, the country’s emphasis on the importance of diagnostic testing facilities and data-driven decision making, and the overall professionalisation and expertise of the technical staff employed within the Moroccan Ministry of Agriculture.
Speaking in reference to the ongoing Morocco-Caribbean Soil Fertility Mapping Project being implemented in the OECS Member States by technical staff and scientists from the Moroccan National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA), members of the delegation spoke to the critical nature of this project and its value to the regional agricultural sector as soil fertility data is often outdated and does not necessarily maximise crop yield.
In attendance at the group’s graduation ceremony held on Friday, December 13th 2019, His Excellency Mr. Ian M. Queeley, Ambassador-Designate to the Kingdom of Morocco remarked:
“This is another exciting day for us here at the ECS Embassies as we continue to explore capacity-building opportunities for our people of the OECS in our quest for the development of the sub-region. I am particularly pleased to hear that the objectives of your visit were met and that valuable learning took place. Therefore, foremost in your mind should be the eagerness to share your new knowledge and techniques in agriculture with your colleagues and farmers upon your return home.”
“Additionally, you should aim to use agriculture as a vehicle for development and strive to increase its contribution to the GDP of your respective countries by developing niche markets, being more collaborative and cohesive in your approaches, and taking food safety and quality more seriously. This can only be achieved if you develop the necessary protocols and policy frameworks.”
“Finally, on behalf of the Member States, the Director-General of the OECS, and staff of the ECS Embassies, I wish to commend and congratulate you on your successful completion of this course of study and also wish you well in your endeavors to grow and prosper our region through agriculture.”
In the spirit of South-South cooperation, the Kingdom of Morocco, through the Agence Marocaine De Coopération Internationale (AMCI) with the assistance of the OECS, will host several more technical missions both in Morocco and in the individual Member States of the OECS. Other ongoing areas of cooperation between Eastern Caribbean islands and Morocco include academic scholarship programmes, soil fertility mapping projects, ocean resource management projects, and various cross-industry technical missions.
The Embassies of Eastern Caribbean States to the Kingdom of Morocco, on behalf of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, wishes to place on record its gratitude to His Majesty the King Mohammed VI and the Agence Marocaine De Coopération Internationale (AMCI) for the successful hosting of this recently concluded technical cooperation mission.
ABOUT THE MOROCCO-CARIBBEAN SOIL FERTILITY MAPPING PROJECT:
In a bid to improve agricultural productivity in OECS Member States, the Morocco-Caribbean Soil Fertility Mapping project was launched. It aims to establish a geospatial information database of the physical and chemical composition and availability of fertile soils in the Eastern Caribbean.
The project consists of several work–packages and includes technical and human capacity-building initiatives focused on boosting internal capacities of the respective OECS Ministries of Agriculture as it relates to Crop Nutrients Management and the establishment of a Regional Soil Testing Facility to serve the OECS region.
The project objectives are: (1) GIS compilation and harmonisation of existing soil maps; (2) Evaluation of soil fertility and derivation of thematic maps by fertilising element from a sampling carried out over the entire useful agricultural area; (3) Mapping of soils in areas not covered by soil studies; (4) Development of crop fertilisation programmes based on soil analyses through experimental trials; (5) Development of a web-based GIS; and (6) Conduct training programmes for managers and technicians at the central and regional level in the formulation of fertilisation advice.
ABOUT THE MOROCCAN AGRICULTURE SECTOR:
In Morocco, agriculture is considered to be an important sector for economic and social development. With almost 1.5 million farmers, the sector contributes to national GDP by 15% and employs 40% of the workforce. The country’s agricultural GDP evolution has been in constant increase since 2000. Since 2009, the sector’s contributions have remained above the threshold of 100 billion dirhams (~ USD$ 10.3 billion) per year, against an average of 75 billion (~ USD$ 7.7 billion) before 2008. These results are explained mainly by a strong mobilisation of the sector’s operators in the Green Morocco Plan.
ABOUT THE EMBASSIES OF EASTERN CARIBBEAN STATES TO THE KINGDOM OF MOROCCO:
The Embassies of Eastern Caribbean States to the Kingdom of Morocco (ECS Embassies) is a joint diplomatic mission comprised of embassies of individual members of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States. The Embassies operate via the modality of joint representation involving joint premises and staff, including a common/joint/shared Ambassador/Head of Mission. The primary objectives of the Joint Embassies are to promote friendship and cooperation and to advance the community and individual interests of member states in the Kingdom of Morocco.