National School of Agriculture, Meknes
Meknes, Morocco
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Lybbert T.J.,University of California at Davis | Aboudrare A.,National School of Agriculture, Meknes | Chaloud D.,U.S. Environmental Protection Agency | Magnan N.,International Food Policy Research Institute | Nash M.,U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Year: 2011

Morocco's argan oil is now the most expensive edible oil in the world. High-value argan markets have sparked a bonanza of argan activity. Nongovernmental organizations, international and domestic development agencies, and argan oil cooperatives aggressively promote the win - win aim of simultaneously benefiting local people and the health of the argan forest. This paper tests some of these win - win claims. Analysis of a panel of detailed household data suggests that the boom has enabled some rural households to increase consumption, increase their goat herds (which bodes poorly for the argan forest), and send their girls to secondary school. The boom has predictably made households vigilant guardians of fruit on the tree, but it has not incited investments in longer term tree and forest health. We evaluate landscape-level impacts of these changes using commune-level data on educational enrollment and normalized difference vegetation index data over the period from 1981 to 2009. The results of the mesoanalysis of enrollment are consistent with the microanalysis: the argan boom seems to have improved educational outcomes, especially for girls. Our normalized difference vegetation index analysis, however, suggests that booming argan prices have not improved the forest and may have even induced degradation. We conclude by exploring the dynamic interactions between argan markets, local institutions, rural household welfare, and forest conservation and sustainability.

Lybbert T.J.,University of California at Davis | Magnan N.,International Food Policy Research Institute | Aboudrare A.,National School of Agriculture, Meknes
Environment and Development Economics | Year: 2010

Morocco's argan oil is now the most expensive edible oil in the world. Growing high-value argan markets have sparked a bonanza of argan activity. NGOs, international and domestic development agencies, and argan oil cooperatives have promoted the win-win aim of simultaneously benefiting locals and the argan forest. We test this win-win claim by surveying households before and after rapid appreciation in argan prices. The argan boom has benefited some rural households. Those well positioned to benefit increased their goat herds more than other households, which bodes poorly for forest impacts, and were more likely to send their girls to secondary school. While locals are keeping their goats out of argan trees during the harvest, they may also be resorting to more aggressive harvesting techniques. The boom has made households vigilant guardians of fruit on their own trees, but has not incited investments in longer term tree and forest health. © 2010 Cambridge University Press.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP-SICA | Phase: KBBE-2009-1-4-05 | Award Amount: 2.64M | Year: 2010

The overall objective of the SUSTAINMED project is to examine and assess the impacts of EU and national agricultural, rural, environmental and trade policies in the Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPCs). Specific impacts include socio-economic structural changes, income distribution, resource management, trade liberalisation, poverty alleviation, employment and migrations trends, as well as commercial relations with major trade partners (in particular the EU) and competitiveness in international markets. The project will integrate a wide range of complementary methods and analytical tools including quantitative modelling, structured surveying, indicator building and qualitative data analysis, in order to provide (i) orders of magnitude of the impact in MPCs related to changes in important policy parameters, and (ii) qualitative insights into processes which will be important for the future welfare of MPCs but which cannot be fully captured by quantitative indicators. The project results will enable the EU Commission and relevant stakeholders to formulate realistic policies and action plans aimed at supporting sustainable agri-food systems, rural development programmes and capacity building in the Mediterranean region. The project outcomes will also contribute to improve collaboration and economic and commercial relations between the EU and target MPCs, in line with the stated goals of the Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean. Furthermore, the project will provide relevant research to support the promotion of sustainable development to fulfilling the EUs commitment towards the United Nation Millennium Development Goals in the region. The project consortium brings together during three years recognised researchers from six EU Member countries, one Associate country and five Mediterranean Partner countries, with a strong scientific background and experience in Mediterranean policy, market and institutional analysis.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: ENV.2007. | Award Amount: 3.44M | Year: 2008

Soil and land information is needed for a wide range of applications but available data are often inaccessible, incomplete, or out of date. GEOSS plans a global Earth Observation System and, within this framework, the e-SOTER project addresses the felt need for a global soil and terrain database. As the European contribution to a Global Soil Observing System, it will deliver a web-based regional pilot platform with data, methodology, and applications, using remote sensing to validate, augment and extend existing data. Technical barriers that have to be overcome include: quantitative mapping of landforms; soil parent material and soil attribute characterization and pattern recognition by remote sensing; standardization of methods and measures of soil attributes to convert legacy data. Two major research thrusts involve: 1) improvement of the current SOTER methodology at scale 1:1 million in four windows in Europe, China and Morocco. Moderate-resolution optical remote sensing will be combined existing parent material/geology and soil information, making use of advanced statistical procedures; 2) within 1:250 000-scale pilot areas, advanced remote sensing applications will be developed - geomorphic landscape analysis, geological re-classified remote sensing, and remote sensing of soil attributes. Advances beyond the state of the art include: transformation of pre-existing data and addition of new information with remote sensing and DEM; interpretations of the e-SOTER database that address threats defined in the EU Soil Thematic Strategy and comparing the results with current assessments; and delivery through a web service of a data portal. e-SOTER will deliver a Pilot Platform and a portal that provides open access to: 1) a methodology to create 1:1 million-scale SOTER databases, and an enhanced soil and terrain database at scale 1:1 million for the four windows; 2) an artifact-free 90m digital elevation model; 3) methodologies to create 1:250 000-scale enhanced SOTER databases, and the databases themselves for four pilots; 4) advanced remote sensing techniques to obtain soil attribute data; 5) validation and uncertainty propagation analysis; 6) dedicated applications related to major threats to soil quality and performance.

Moujahid Y.,Center Regional Of La Recherche Agronomique | Bouabid R.,National School of Agriculture, Meknes
Journal of Materials and Environmental Science | Year: 2014

The Clay fractions of five Moroccan vertisols (Chaouia, Gharb, Doukalla, Zair, and Sais) as well as a reference smectite (montmorillonite SWY-1) were Ca-saturated and dispersed in K+Ca2+ binary exchange solutions with constant ionic forces of 10-2 at 25°C. Exchange isotherms established showed that K is preferentially adsorbed compared to Ca2+ in all soil clays and the reference smectite. The clay fraction of the Ch-Chaouia soil, which is dominantly beidellitic, represents the highest affinity for K+. For all other soil clays, the values of the Vanselow (KV) exchange selectivity coefficient, Gaines and Thomas (KGT), and Gapon (KG) were higher than 1. This corroborates the fact that clays fractions of vertisols dominated by smectites are highly selective to K+ compared to Ca2+. The regression coefficient show that a two-site adsorption model predicts well the adsorption parameters α, KV1, KV2 and N0. The site 1 (α) portion is more important in the Chaouia soil clay (α = 0.248) and the least in the Doukkala soil clay (α = 0.078). The selectivity coefficient of sites 1 (KV1) is less important for the reference Montmorillonite SWY-1 compared to all soil clays. For sites 2, the selectivity coefficients (KV2) are of less importance and vary from 1.77 (mole/l)-1 for SWY-1 to 12.54 (mole/l)-1 for the Chaouia soil clay. The equilibrium constants (Kéq) of the K-Ca exchange at 25°C are greater than 1. They are highest for the Chaouia clay and the lowest for the SWY-1 reference montmorillonite. For all clays, the standard free enthalpy (ΔG°) has negative values varying from -5 to 0 KJ/éq.

Halasz J.,Corvinus University of Budapest | Kodad O.,National School of Agriculture, Meknes | Hegedus A.,Corvinus University of Budapest
Plant Journal | Year: 2014

Miniature inverted-repeat transposable elements (MITEs) are known to contribute to the evolution of plants, but only limited information is available for MITEs in the Prunus genome. We identified a MITE that has been named Falling Stones, FaSt. All structural features (349-bp size, 82-bp terminal inverted repeats and 9-bp target site duplications) are consistent with this MITE being a putative member of the Mutator transposase superfamily. FaSt showed a preferential accumulation in the short AT-rich segments of the euchromatin region of the peach genome. DNA sequencing and pollination experiments have been performed to confirm that the nested insertion of FaSt into the S-haplotype-specific F-box gene of apricot resulted in the breakdown of self-incompatibility (SI). A bioinformatics-based survey of the known Rosaceae and other genomes and a newly designed polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay verified the Prunoideae-specific occurrence of FaSt elements. Phylogenetic analysis suggested a recent activity of FaSt in the Prunus genome. The occurrence of a nested insertion in the apricot genome further supports the recent activity of FaSt in response to abiotic stress conditions. This study reports on a presumably active non-autonomous Mutator element in Prunus that exhibits a major indirect genome shaping force through inducing loss-of-function mutation in the SI locus. © 2014 The Authors The Plant Journal © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Starting from 2004, the Moroccan state has decided to grant its land tenure to private players in the framework of a public-private partnership. A privatization and appropriation dynamic was launched with the involvement of national and foreign private players, an example of the land grabbing phenomenon. This dynamic falls within a liberal strategy of agricultural development called Green Morocco Plan adopted in April 2008 whose implementation relies on the acquisition of agricultural land (700 000 ha) which is made available for private actors in order to develop agricultural projects. Its philosophy and implementation reinforce the agricultural dualism privileging capitalist agriculture at the expense of family farming. This study deals with the future of land tenure in Morocco in the framework of a liberal agricultural policy. Attempts are made to demonstrate that the current dynamic of land privatization deepens its roots in the Moroccan land history with the primary role played by the pre-colonial Makhzen State first, by the French colonization after and by the post-independence State.

Kodad O.,National School of Agriculture, Meknes | Hegedus A.,Corvinus University of Budapest | Socias i Company R.,CSIC - Centro de Investigación y Tecnología Agroalimentaria | Halasz J.,Corvinus University of Budapest
BMC Plant Biology | Year: 2013

Background: Allelic diversity of the S-locus is attributed to the genetic relationships among genotypes and sexual reproduction strategy. In otherwise self-incompatible Prunus species, the emergence of loss-of-function in S-haplotypes has resulted in self-compatibility. This information may allow following major stages of crop history. The genetic diversity in the S-locus of local apricots (Prunus armeniaca L.) from different oasis ecosystems in Morocco and the comparison of the occurrence and frequency of S-alleles with other regions may allow testing the validity of previous theories on the origin and dissemination of North African apricots. Results: The S-genotypes of 55 Moroccan apricot accessions were determined, resulting in 37 self-compatible genotypes, from which 33 were homozygotes for self-compatibility. SC was the most frequent S-allele in this germplasm, followed by S13, S7, S11, S2, S20, S8, and S6. New approaches (CAPS or allele-specific PCR) were designed for a reliable verification of the rare or unexpected alleles. The frequency and distribution of the S-alleles differed among the oases. Some of these alleles, S8, S11, S13 and S20, were formerly detected only in the Irano Caucasian germplasm and are not present in Europe.Conclusions: Our data supports the Irano-Caucasian origin of the Moroccan apricots and their original introduction by Phoenicians and Arabs through the North African shore. North Africa seems to have preserved much higher variability of apricot as compared with Europe. The loss of genetic diversity in apricot might be explained by the occurrence of self-compatibility and the length of time that apricot has spent with this breeding system in an environment without its wild relatives, such as the Moroccan oases or Central Europe. © 2013 Kodad et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Moujahid Y.,Center Regional Of La Recherche Agronomique | Bouabid R.,National School of Agriculture, Meknes
Journal of Materials and Environmental Science | Year: 2015

In this study, the clayey fractions from vertisols of five major agricultural regions of Morocco, the Chaouia, the Gharb, the Zaërs, the Doukkala and the Saïs were studied. A reference smetite, the Wyoming montmorillonite (SWY-1) was used for comparison. X-ray diffraction on samples subjected to Mg and K saturations, as well as solvations using ethylene glycol and heating to 550°C allowed the identification and the semi quantification of the mineral species constituting the clay fraction. The interlayer charge of the 2:1 clays was estimated by the method of intercalation by the alkylammonium chains. CEC was also determined before and after saturation with lithium and heating to determine total CEC and tetrahedral CEC. The results showed that the clayey fractions of the five moroccan vertisols studied are essentially constituted of smectites associated to variable, but often weak amounts of illite, kaolinite, chlorite, quartz and feldspars. The smectites of the vertisols of the Chaouia and the Zaër are beidellitic, while those of the Gharb, Saïs and Doukkalas are mixed beidellite and montmorillonite. The alkylammonium method revealed that the interlayer charge of the smectites varied between 0.57 mol(c) for the vertisol of the Chaouia and 0.36 mole(c) for that of the Doukkala. The total, octahedral and tetrahedral CECs were in agreement with the charge determined by the alkylammoniums. The clayey fractions studied presented high total CEC, variying from 85,3 and 108,5 cmole+/kg and varying tetrahedral CEC ranging from 45,8 and 76,4 mole(c)/kg, reflecting the nature of the smectites (beidellite vs. mixed beidellite-montmorionnite) in clay mineralogy of each soil.

Bajoub A.,University of Granada | Bajoub A.,National School of Agriculture, Meknes | Carrasco-Pancorbo A.,University of Granada | Ajal E.A.,National School of Agriculture, Meknes | And 2 more authors.
Food Chemistry | Year: 2015

The applicability of two different platforms (LC-ESI-TOF MS and LC-ESI-IT MS) as powerful tools for the characterisation and subsequent quantification of the phenolic compounds present in north Moroccan virgin olive oils was assessed in this study. 156 olives samples of "Picholine Marocaine" cultivar grown in 7 Moroccan regions were collected and olive oils extracted. The phenolic profiles of these olive oils were studied using a resolutive chromatographic method coupled to ESI-TOF MS (for initial characterisation purposes) and coupled to ESI-IT MS (for further identification and quantification). 25 phenolic compounds belonging to different chemical families were identified and quantified. Secoiridoids were the most abundant phenols in all the samples, followed by phenolic alcohols, lignans and flavonoids, respectively. For testing the ability of phenolic profiles for tracing the geographical origin of the investigated oils, multivariate analysis tools were used, getting a good rate of correct classification and prediction by using a cross validation procedure. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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