Heat tolerant wheat crop gives Moroccan farmers hope

Heat tolerant wheat crop gives Moroccan farmers hope

New methods of growing wheat over the past few years have given Moroccan farmers a boost as droughts and heatwaves increasingly became a cause for concern, reports The National , October 9. 

According to an expert, heat tolerant varieties of wheat recently grown in Morocco have produced the same yields with just half of the rainfall usually required. 

Morocco has experienced rough droughts and heatwaves, particularly during the summer season. On August 11 2023, the Moroccan meteorological service recorded a national record of 50.4C in the southern city of Agadir. 

In neighbouring Tunisia, wheat shortages amongst the lacking of basic food items have worried the population. Also, the government has had to rely on international exports which have made their finances even more lacklustre. 

However, Director General of the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Aly Abousabaa said the yields with the new strain of wheat were powerful even during 2021 and 2022 when Morocco experienced the “drought of the century”. 

ICARDA is a member of Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and is a non-profit agricultural research institute that aims to broaden the livelihoods of the resource-lacking across the globe’s dry areas. 

Abousabaa spoke on a panel on the second day of the Middle East and North African Climate Week on and noted that it was key for farmers to adapt to a heating planet. 

This year’s Climate Week in the MENA region will be held in the Saudi Arabian city of Riyadh from October 8 to 12. 

Mr. Abousabaa told The National that, “Typical rainfall in Morocco is 350mm to 400mm a year but in the past two years the average in the location where it was tested was half of this amount. You immediately see there was a 50 per cent loss of water and yet it gave a typical yield. That is a truly revolutionary.” 

A seasoned academic, he became Director General of ICARDA in October 2016 and has 35 years of experience in high-level strategic leadership of complex sustainable development. 

The Egyptian expert added, “Over thousands of years, plants adapted to a certain pattern and when the climate changed, the plants got confused. This comes with penalties on water; penalties on yield production; and the introduction of new forms of pests and disease.” 

Despite multiple negative predictions about the future state of the earth, Abousabaa remains optimisic.

Regarding the matter he said, “I believe as things get worse there will be innovations in science and technology that will help us cope”. 



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