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UK and Morocco partnership to build Africa’s agricultural future

Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) in Morocco and two of the UK’s leading agricultural research institutions Rothamsted Research and Cranfield University have announced an international academic partnership

The partnership, to be supported by OCP Group, which is one of the largest exporters of phosphate fertilisers in the world, is in line with the growing relations between the UK and Morocco to strengthen collaboration in education, research and innovation fields.

Up to 20 early career researchers in the agricultural sector will be supported both in Morocco and in the UK through the partnership.

Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) is a hub of education, research, innovation and entrepreneurship, aspiring to become a solid bridge of knowledge between Morocco, Africa and the world.

With more than 175 years of heritage behind it, Rothamsted Research is a world-leading, non-profit research centre that focuses on strategic agricultural science to the benefit of farmers and society worldwide.

Cranfield University was awarded its fifth Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2017 in recognition of its global impact with large-scale soil and environmental data for the sustainable use of natural resources. Cranfield University registered its first Moroccan agricultural student in 1966.

The initial phase of the partnership will focus on the delivery of seven agricultural research projects and the creation of a Centre for Doctoral Training, supporting the development of the next generation of Moroccan scientists and engineers.

During the signature ceremony, Hicham El Habti, secretary general of Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, said, “OCP, through its R&D programme and in close co-operation with the Mohamed Vi Polytechnic University, is developing fertilisers that are specific to the needs of African soils and crops, as well as locally-appropriate service models for African farmers to have reliable, affordable access to these inputs and related products.”

The partnership is expected to support the acceleration of this strategy to help African farmers become not only more productive but also more prosperous, El Habti added.

Professor Leon A Terry, director of environment and agrifood at Cranfield University, commented, “This partnership brings together the very best in UK plant and soil science with the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, an institution with the very highest of entrepreneurial and scientific ambitions for Morocco and wider Africa.”

Professor Achim Doberman, director and chief executive of Rothamsted Research said, “By combining the cutting-edge expertise of Rothamsted and Cranfield, with the drive and vison of UM6P, we can play a major role in delivering this and we are excited about contributing our unique expertise.”