UK-Morocco agri-tech collaboration expands

Published: March 13, 2024

Last week, Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL) and Agri-EPI Centre, part of the Agri-Tech Centres, visited Morocco as part of an effort to strengthen collaboration between the UK and Morocco. This visit, in collaboration with the UK Science and Innovation Network and Department for Business and Trade, follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Morocco last year, and marks the second visit from the Agri-Tech Centres to further enhance understanding and forge connections with potential collaborators in the Moroccan livestock and aquaculture sectors.
The agricultural industry in Morocco plays a crucial role in the nation’s economy, providing employment for a substantial portion of the population and making notable contributions to both GDP and export revenue. As a prosperous fishing nation, Morocco is increasingly acknowledging the significance of aquaculture. The government is actively backing new license applications and acknowledging the necessity for training and technological advancements to foster the growth of this sector.

Polly Douglas, Aquaculture Specialist and Project Manager, said:

“With 3000 kilometres of coastline, Morocco has a thriving fishing industry, and a newly emerging aquaculture industry. Technical challenges and a lack of qualified personnel to run and manage farms were priority areas identified on our visit. With a well-established fish farming industry and academic expertise in the UK, it was clear that there could be some really useful exchanges that could be established in order to support the advancement of both countries.”

Although drought conditions have been observed for several years, the situation has deteriorated further in 2024. Moroccan authorities have described the situation as catastrophic for the agricultural industry, highlighting a nearly 70 percent decrease in rainfall over the past few months compared to the average year. With declining productivity and rising input costs, there is an increasing focus on modernizing the agricultural sector through the integration of technology. These initiatives aim to enhance productivity, efficiency, and sustainability.

James Kayam, International Business Development Manager, said:

“Despite its importance, the agricultural sector faces several challenges, including water scarcity, soil erosion, the effects of climate change, and outdated farming practices. Additionally, small-scale farmers and fishermen, often lack access to modern technologies and financial resources, hindering productivity and competitiveness.”

Sarah Nightingale, Projects and Knowledge Exchange Manager, said:

“Discovering the challenges for the livestock sector in Morocco emphasised the increased importance to drive the efficiency of feed materials through precision nutrition initiatives. Through collaborations and knowledge exchange we believe we can support initiatives that can help increase productivity to ensure a sustainable future environmentally, socially and economically.”

The UK maintains strong relations with Morocco, fostering increasing bilateral cooperation in both the health and agricultural sectors. Morocco’s steady ascent in the ‘ease of doing business’ index presents promising prospects.

The Agri-Tech Centres aim to address global challenges, strengthening connections between science, business and funders to accelerate R&D that overcomes the agri-industry’s most critical challenges, such as climate change, labour issues, disease mitigation and environmental sustainability. 

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