Morocco and ICARDA
Agriculture contributes about 20% of Morocco's gross domestic product (GDP), but this proportion varies widely depending on rainfall. The country has about 8.5 million hectares of good agricultural land, of which nearly 90% is rainfed. However, irrigated areas are expanding rapidly. The agricultural sector in Morocco is expected to ensure food security for the country, enable sustainable livelihoods for farm households and contribute to natural resources conservation. To achieve the country's objectives for the agricultural sector, Morocco has had fruitful collaboration with ICARDA since 1977. Starting with exchange of germplasm for crop improvement, visits and training in the period 1978-1985, collaborative activities were consolidated by two reviews of the cereals breeding program (1982 and 1986) that led to direct involvement of ICARDA in Morocco. The posting of cereal and food legume regional scientists in 1986 and a forage specialist from 1988 to the early 1990s gave INRAMorocco (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique) the necessary support in planning and ensuring continuity of research. In the period 1994-2004, the collaborative activities included decentralized breeding, outsourcing, strong involvement in the development of ICARDA strategies (medium- and long-term planning), development and implementation of regional projects, use of Moroccan expertise in West Asia and North Africa (WANA), and technical backstopping by ICARDA scientists to national projects.The Morocco/ICARDA Collaborative Grants Program that started in 2004 is an additional opportunity to strengthen the collaboration. As a result of the long collaboration, mutual benefits have been obtained through germplasm exchange, screening for pest and disease resistance, natural resources management, training, and exchange of visits and publications.