Vegetable Scientist Assisting Moroccan Farmers
Consumers want consistency. They want to buy a pepper that’s the same size as other peppers, and they want carrots the same color as other carrots. That seems simple enough.
Except that it’s not simple – not in Morocco, where even fertile fields and Mediterranean climate can give way to drought all too easily. Small family farms in Morocco grow what they can, and consistency in size, shape and color is not necessarily the first focus.
Alan Walters, professor in the Department of Plant, Soil and Agricultural Systems at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is a vegetable scientist, an expert on finding ways to improve farming methods. He’s working in Morocco with the Moroccan-American Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange in Rabat, and the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) at its regional center in Agadir as a Fulbright Research Scholar.
The Fulbright research project began as a conversation between Walters and INRA Director Mohammed Badraoui, about improving marketability of vegetable crops for small farmers. Walters favors improving local traditional vegetable varieties as well as introducing vegetables that may thrive in a difficult climate.