Scaling up quinoa value chain to improve food and nutritional security in the rural/poor communities of Morocco
In Morocco, rural poverty remains a challenge and it is expected to intensify. Water resources are becoming scarcer, a situation aggravated by the effects of climate change, erratic rainfall, and a succession of drought years. Sustainability of irrigated agriculture is also threatened by salinization, with approximately 30% of the soils in irrigated areas being salt-affected. Cultivating crops with a high value and a high tolerance to stress would address both rural poverty and low production. Introduced in Morocco in the 2000s as a drought and salinity-tolerant alternative, quinoa is a revenue-generating crop. However, its production has been constrained by lack of access to well-adapted and high-yielding varieties, inappropriate crop management practices, weak value chains, and limited market demand.
This project aims to improve food security and incomes for smallholder farmers in marginal areas of Morocco through the production, consumption, and sale of high-value and stress-tolerant quinoa. The project will be implemented in two phases over a period of three years by the Dubai-based International Center for Biosaline Agriculture and Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Morocco.
The pilot phase will target 200 smallholders in Rhamna province where a significant number of farmers live under the poverty threshold and where a quinoa value chain already exists but is constrained by various factors. In this phase, the project will analyze the existing quinoa value chain, and will develop and test a pro-poor business model for quinoa production and marketing. It will introduce and disseminate quinoa varieties with high productivity, yield stability, and high tolerance to abiotic (non-living) stresses such as salt. The project will also promote appropriate crop production/management practices among smallholder quinoa growers. Links between farmers and other value chain actors will be established.
The scaling-up phase will have two components. The first will scale up the piloted business model in several rural communities of Rhamna province. At least 1,000 families will be targeted, benefitting a total of 5,000 people. The second component will focus on creating a favorable policy environment for scaling up quinoa production and consumption across Morocco.