Field Training in Essaouria Olive Orchards Focuses on Upgrading Crop Advisor Skills

Field Training in Essaouria Olive Orchards Focuses on Upgrading Crop Advisor Skills

As a vital part of Morocco’s agricultural industry, olive production continues on its path towards increased area under plantation and improved productivity. In the coastal province of Essaouira, olive production area has increased from 16,000 to 27,000 ha between 2009 and 2019, in part due to the momentum created by the Green Morocco Plan, a multi-year effort to better develop Morocco’s entire agricultural sector.

APNI is working to develop best practices for the management of nutrients used within Morocco’s tree crop sector. As part of this effort, an on-farm training day was organized on June 16, 2021 in the rural olive producing community of Ounagha (province of Essaouria). The field day focused on leaf sampling methods used for the analysis of nutrient status of the crop. The event was held in collaboration with INRA Marrakech.

“I was joined by Mr. Lhassane Sikaoui, INRA Marrakech olive expert, and Dr. Abdelaziz Bouizgaren, INRA Marrakech Scientist, to train 14 agricultural engineers on a range of best practices for olive ,” explained Dr. Hakim Boulal, APNI North Africa Program Manager.” “Proper leaf sampling techniques ensure that farmers can accurately determine the nutrient status of their trees and implement fertilization strategies that will properly match crop demand.”

The trainees were crop advisor representatives of Al Moutmir – an initiative of OCP. Al Moutmir’s staff work with Morocco’s farmers in advisory roles and are directly involved with assisting olive growers with the adoption of technologies targeted towards optimizing plantation productivity.

Images of the event (H. Boulal/APNI).

During the day, the group of experts were able to demonstrate methods for proper tree selection within an orchard, determination of canopy volume, leaf sampling, and notation schemes after sampling.

The initial training was followed by a practical session that gave Al Moutmir engineers an opportunity to make use of their new skills.

In support of the event, a descriptive Arabic language brochure on leaf sampling methods was co-developed by APNI and INRA Marrakech, which was distributed to all participants. This publication is available to download from the APNI website.

APNI Contributors: Gavin Sulewski, Editor; and Dr. Hakim Boulal, North Africa Program Manager.