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Report



Plant Breeding and Related Biotechnology Capacity




Morocco











Prepared by

Mohamed Kamal










Rabat,
September

2008



Table of contents



Acknowledgments

________________________________
________________________

1

Introduction

________________________________
______________________________

2

Methodology

________________________________
_____________________________

3

Executive summary of the survey at INRA

________________________________
__

5

Part I: Strategy, major goals and genetic progress of plant breeding and
biotechnology activities at INRA
-
Morocco

________________________________
__

7

1. Overall rese
arch agenda

________________________________
________________

7

2. Plant breeding strategies and priorities
________________________________
____

8

2.1 Cereals

________________________________
________________________________
_______
9

2.2 Food legumes

________________________________
________________________________

14

2.3 Forages

________________________________
________________________________
_____

16

2.4 Industrial crops

________________________________
_______________________________

19

2.5 Horticulture crops

________________________________
_____________________________

21

2.6 Alternati ves crops

________________________________
_____________________________

26

3. Biotechnology priorities
________________________________
________________

26

Part II: Plant breeding and related biotechnology capacity survey

___________

33

Number and educational level of the scientists

______________________________

33

Total budget and proportion allocated to plant breeding

______________________

33

Resources allocated to breeding activities per crop or crop
-
group
______________

34

Trends of allocation to breeding activities

________________________________
__

35

Line development and line evaluation in breeding programmes

________________

35

Bre
eding priorities

________________________________
______________________

36

Released cultivars
________________________________
_______________________

36

Genetic resources and germplasm origin

________________________________
___

37

Required help from the international community to increase efficient use of plant
genetic resources

________________________________
_______________________

38

Limiting factors to plant breeding
________________________________
__________

38

Conclusion and major recommendations

________________________________
___

38

References

________________________________
______________________________

39

Attachments
________________________________
_____________________________

42

Attachment 1: List of contacted institutions for the plant breeding and related
biotechnology capacity survey in Morocco
________________________________
__

42

Attachment 2: List of private
seed companies members of seed association AMSP
43

Attachment 3: Number of the scientists and their educational level

_____________

45

Attachm
ent 4: Budget allocated to plant breeding activities

___________________

45

Attachment 5: Resource allocation in term of number of FTE of plant breeders and
other major fields of disciplines (biotechnology, patho
logy and physiology)

_____

45


Attachment 6: Resource allocation as a percent of total scientists FTEs involved in
breeding (breeders, biotechnologists, plant protection scientists, physiologists)

_

46

Attachment 7: Allocated resources as of % FTEs to each activity

_______________

46

Attachment 8: Trends of allocation to breeding activities

______________________

46

Attachment 9: Environment breeding priorities by crop or crop
-
group

__________

47

Attachment 10: released varieties registered in the nati
onal catalogue

__________

48

Attachment 11: released cereals cultivars with Hessian fly resistance

___________

48

Attachment 12: accession of most prom
inent genus held at INRA Settat genebank

48

Attachment 13: number of varieties of various fruit trees species held at INRA
stations

________________________________
________________________________

49

Attachment 14: Main sources of germplasm (%) used in the breeding programs at
INRA in 2005

________________________________
___________________________

49

Attachment 15: Limiting aspects for the success of the plant breeding programs

_

50

Attachment 16: Required assistance from the international community

_________

50

Attachment 17: Scientists and research projects on plant breeding
and related
biotechnology fields in the university system in Morocco

_____________________

51

Attachment 18: Scientists involved in plant breeding, biotechnology and related
activities at the National Agronomic Res
earch Institute (INRA) Morocco

_________

55





Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB)

1

Acknowledgments


I would like in this few words express my deep recognition to all persons who contributed to
this important work which summarizes the memory of INRA in the field of plan
t breeding and
biotechnology.


Th
a
n
k
s to Professor Hamid Narjisse
Previous
D
irector of the National Research Institute of
Morocco who supported this work and to El Idrissi Ammari Majid Deputy Director of INRA for
facilitating data gathering
and to

all scie
ntists who contributed to this works.


My thanks g
oes
particularly
to Dr.

Jliben, Dr.

Naserallah
, Dr.

Amri, Dr.
Sa
idi cereal breeders,
Dr. Al Faiz an
d Dr.

S
aidi Nezha from forage breeding, Dr.

Sakr and Dr.Fatemi food legume
breeders, Dr.Oukabli plant tre
e
s

breeders
, D
r
.

Sedra date palm
biotechnologists,
Mr.

Ben
ya
h
i
a

citrus breeder,
Mr.

Boughghar
cactus breed
er
,

Dr Udupa and
Dr.

Iraqui
biotechnologists
, for

their significant contribution

and Dr. Andaloussi
former plant breeding
department head
for approving
the list of scientists.


May I also express my cordial
t
ha
n
ks to Dr. Mahmmoud Solh actual IC
A
RDA director
G
e
neral
,
Dr.
Gu
i
mara
e
s from FAO
-
Rome
and
Dr
Ha
bib
Halila Resident
FAO representative

of Morocco
, for their support
.



Report on Plant Breeding
and related Biotechnology Capacity


Morocco

2

Introduction

This work is carrie
d out under the auspice
s

of the FAO Plant Production and Protection
Division with the objective of assessing and strengthening
sustainable use of plant genetic
resources (PGR).
The
terms of reference
of
this study were

to:


-

collect information on resources

allocation for plant breeding and biotechnology from
the public and private sector in Morocco, following the provided questionnaire

-

apply the questionnaire to all public and private plant breeding programs in the country
(one questionnaire for each instit
ution/organization)

-

visit the facilities and collect the questionnaire information

-

submit to FAO a hard copy of each questionnaire with the complete dataset

-

prepare a written report with description and interpretation for each questionnaire

-

prepare and su
bmit to FAO, in English, a written final report aggregating and
interpreting all answers from all questionnaires to provide national plant breeding
capacity

-

prepare a short document advising police makers on strategies to strength national
plant breeding c
apacity

-

assist FAO in the preparation of the country profile publication


Previous task w
as
to assess the national research activities on plant breeding and
biotechnology

in
specialised research institute, universities and private sector.
Letters

were
sent

through the Director of the National Research Institute (
Institut National de Recherche
Agricole
-

INRA) serving as a focal point
,
with the questionnaire and
a
recommendation letter
of the local FAO representation in Morocco
,

to
25
national wide
instituti
ons (refer attached list
in
Attachment

1)
. These i
nclud
ed
9

facult
ies

of science,

2 national coordination
bodies
of the
university research system,
2 national association
s

of seed companies
, 4
related
companies
to the
Ministry of agriculture and maritime f
ishery (MAPM)
with
major
research&development
activities on plant breeding on annual and horticultural crops, 5 research and education
institutions of the
MAPM
, 3 major central administration
having a major role in seed and
plants production supervision or

control
of

the MAPM.


Direct c
ontacts were then made to major coordinating bodies of the system
and to institutions
which
would have
major
involvement
in plant

breeding and related activities. These included:

-

R
esearch and education institutions of the MA
PM: INRA
with its
central divisions and
research centres with major activities on plant breeding and biotechnology, the
Agronomic
and Veterinary
Institute (IAV) and Meknes Agriculture School (ENA);

-

University coordination bodies such as Sciences Direction
(DS)
of the
M
inistry of
education and the National Centre of Scientific and Technical Research (CNRST);

thematic coordinating body with major activity on biotechnology such as Misobiop
(biotechnology network

of faculties of
science)

and two
major
faculties

of science

(Marrakech and Rabat)
.

-

the
association of seed producing companies such as
the Moroccan Association of
seeds and Plants (AMSP)

and one major priv
ate

seed company
,

SONACOS
,

in charge
of all seed production of cereals in Morocco
;

-

the
DPVCRF (
Dire
ctorate
of plant protection and quality control
)

of the MAPM in charge
of the national registration catalogue of released varieties
.



From this preliminary survey we resumed to
carry
out m
ore indebt investigation on INRA
because (i) this institution is th
e only major institution body in Morocco with major plant
breeding activities devoted to such
work

(ii)
the other institutions did not respond to our
request and found the question
naire

too specific
and
that it
did not reflect
there activities (iii)
the su
rvey
period did coincide with departure of more than 40
%

on the national staff working
in the research and education system, following a national pre
-
retirement policy initiative of
the Morocc
an government

(iv) the lack of a systematic data base which will

provide a
historical information on plant breeding activities and resource allocation system in all
institutions

(vii) private sector did not want to share any information on their specific activities

Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB)

3

on plant breeding which,

apart from SONACOS, most of

t
he seed companies are related to
worldwide firms such as Pioneer for example

(
refer to
Attachment

2 on major seed
companies in Morocco)
.
These
companies

were
contacted

trough

their association AMSP
but all of them declined the offer.
The only
valuable s
har
ed information concerns registered
variet
ies in the catalogue
.


It is important however to mention that the university system do have important
research
work
in biotechnology
;

but these activities are not linked to any plant breeding
work
per say
and the a
ssessment of such activities will require other term of references and specific
mandate to carry out such task.


We did however succeed to collect available information on some ongoing activities at the
university system on plant breeding through national

open bids program initiated by the
Directorate o
f

sciences

of
higher

Ministry
of education (
program PARS
, PROTARS
). The
results
presented
in
Attachment

17

shows that
plant breeding activities concerns
physiological
characterisation and genetic studies on
biotic and abiotic stresses of various
traits

using
molecular

markers

for
various

crops such as cereals, date palms, olives, citrus
,

strawberry, sugar cane, cactus and jojoba
.

This remains

just indicative,
because the existing
information system does not a
llow a systematic recording of the
ongoing

research

on plant
breeding per say
.
However, these
data confirm the
steady
increase of
interest
, by the
university system,
to
research activities
in
agriculture.


Apart from these
experiences
, the only
serious br
eeding

activities
outside INRA which is
wor
th
mention
ing
concerns

breeding activities carried out at IAV (Ins
t
itut Agronomique et
vétérinaire Hassan II)
. Such important work did cover
local population improvement of faba
bean
s
,
selection of
alfalfa
inbreed

lines

and improvement of durum wheat by two
PhDs
scientists at IAV
. Extensive work is being made
also at IAV on local biodiversity (
BIROUK A.
2003).
Such effort could be documented in a separate report pending on the accessibility to
the information.


S
o

far
,

no
genetic material was released from these
various
experiences

at the university
system
.

The lack of long term commitments of resources to such type of research activities
will remain a serious handicap to any further achievement
s
.
Yet
,

t
he situatio
n may change
through the outstanding break

through of biotechnology in the system.


Having in mind the difficulties and the
magnitude of such task, the actual indebt study is
limited to the case of the INRA. This report covers
two major aspect
s

of plant br
eeding and
biotechnology
:

-

the
first part covers the
evolution of INRA strategy and results
achievement
towa
r
ds
major breeding goals
;

-

The second, the
results

of the plant breeding survey following the questionnaire
provided by FAO
.


Though the first part
was not requested in the term of reference
s

of the ongoing survey, we
felt however that it
is
important to understand the substance of plant breeding and
biotechnology activities at INRA rather than focusing only on allocation of resources.

This will
help
understand better the overall strategy in the sector in this institution.



Methodology

The overall framework followed the following steps to carry out this task:

-

Distribution of the questionnaire thought official channels to all research units having a
m
ajor plant breeding, plant protection and biotechnology activities;


Report on Plant Breeding
and related Biotechnology Capacity


Morocco

4

-

Survey

and
visit with
all breeders

and b
iotechnologists at head quarter and INRA
regional centres having a major breeding activities on various field

crops

and
horticulture crops in the in
stitution;

-

Elaboration of database on plant breeders,

plant protection scientists and
biotechnologists through complementary survey at head quarter scientific, human
resource division
s

and
contacts of

individual retired program coordinators or working
out
site of INRA in intern
ational centres such as ICARDA;

-

Validation of
information on the historical scientists activities by the Plant Breeding
Department and INRA management;

-

Bibliographic

research and specific survey on historical INRA activities on
biotec
hnology

and plant breeding strategies and activities;

-

Assessment of plant breeding achievement toward breeding goals by breeders’ panels.



One of the major difficulties was the lack of comprehensive historical information on plant
breeding and related act
ivities. The existing databases on individual researchers were mostly
devoted to administrative activities (payment of salaries or personnel carriers etc), but not to
the management of research activities. There
were no historical records

keeping on the

ac
tivities of the
plant breeders
or
biotechnologists

or related
fields
.
We had then to
restore
INRA scientists’ memory from various contacts of previous program leaders.


Therefore o
ur definition of plant breeders does not reflect necessarily
and exclusivel
y
the
diploma but rather the
plant breeding
activity

of
a
scientist during a consistent period,
that

includes any activities related to the application of plant breeding methodologies, going from
germplasm enhancement (pre
-
breeding) to line development and

evaluation.



The same

methodology
was used for

assessing
biotechnologists who
had major
biotechnolog
ical
activities.
We have then recorded all scientists having an activity
that uses
biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make o
r modify products or
process for specific use
s: p
lant cell and tissue culture
, u
se of double haploids technology
,
DNA fingerprinting
, m
olecular characterisation of genetic variability
, m
olecular markers uses

and g
enetic transformation
.


We also assessed pl
ant protection scientists
and plant physiologists
who
systematically
contribut
ed
to major b
reeding activities

with a consistent work on
screening for diseases
resistance

and

tolerance to abiotic stresses (drought, salinity). These
were included
in a
separa
te
category
as
other scientists supporting plant breeding activities.




Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB)

5

Executive
summary
of the survey
at

INRA

This work is carried out under the auspices of the FAO Plant Production and Protection
Division with the objective of assessing and strengthen
ing sustainable use of plant genetic
resources. This work was resumed to carry out more indebt investigation on INRA because
this institution is the only major institution body in Morocco with major plant breeding
activities devoted to such work. The actua
l report provides indebt information on two major
aspects of plant breeding and biotechnology at INRA:

(i) the first part covers the evolution of
INRA strategy and results achievement towards major breeding goals, (ii) the second, the
results of the plant
breeding survey following the questionnaire provided by FAO.


The report underlined the overall strategies and major achievement in term of breeding goals,
selection criteria and released genetic resources to farmers in major commodity goods such
as cereal
s, food legumes and forages or horticultural trees such as date palms, olives and
citrus. It also provides more specific information on the ongoing biotechnology work in term
of program activities and used technologies for each crop.


In term of resources

allocation, the report shows that the overall plant breeders represent

on
average,
about 17% and biotechnologists 4% of total scientists at INRA. A major effort was
put forward since 2000 for increasing plant biotechnology activities with a steady increas
e
since 1990 by almost 130% of total biotechnologists. PhD holders represent nearly 20% of
plant breeders and 50% of plant biotechnologist
s
.


The overall budget allocation including salaries, equipment and op
erational cost was on
about 725

000 Dh

(about 72

000 U
S
$)
per scientist and did not change much during the last
15 years which would indicate
,
with the steady increase of the overall costs
,

that the amount
of resources available to plant breeding activities has significantly decreased.

Allocated
budget
for plant breeding evolved from 19
%

in 1990 to 17
%

2005 of the total resources
devoted to research.



Resources allocated for each crop in term of human resources, were also provided in the
report.


In term of qualitative changes in the breeding activities

could be summarized as follows:




Line development

through conventional breeding has either decreased for major crops
such as
b
read wheat with qualitative improvement however (major breakthrough in
resistances to Hessian fly, population improvement in barl
ey, quality improvement of
oats), or increased for some crops such as oats and lentils which received a high priority
in their respective programs. For others such as cotton and oil seed crops plant breeding
drastically decreased following the decline the

sectors and subsequent decision made to
close such programs. New breeding areas are merging among which cactus
improvement and selection of
herbal and medicinal plants (PAM)
species are among the
most significant.



Modern technologies

such as use of bio
tec
hnology tools are ta
king a leading role since
2000 in the breeding activities; significant improvement is being made in drought
tolerance of wheat and line development of seedless citrus fruits, date palm tissue culture
and “bayoud” resistance improvement.



Germplasm enhancement

became an important activity since the development of Settat
centre premises for gene bank conservation and assignment of new scientists to such
activity since 1995 either at Settat or in Rabat
forage program. Transfer

of genes from
wild relatives and genes introgression by biotechnology tools significantly increased
during the last ten years in crops such as cereals and food legumes.



Report on Plant Breeding
and related Biotechnology Capacity


Morocco

6

This survey clearly highlighted the overall trend of breeding strategies, major trends toward
bree
ding goals, resources allocated to such activities and major challenges for any further
development. The major conclusions and recommendations could be summarised as follows:




Plant breeding at INRA has been recognized as the major strategic activity of it
s
research agenda and has been instrumental in boosting up crop production in
Morocco. Major achievements are being made in major fields such as cereals, forage,
date palms, citrus and olives. New fields of plant b
r
eeding such as PAM and cactus
are rising.

Non conventional breeding through biotechnology significantly increased
during the last ten years.




Sustainability of such activity will however depends on a systematic evaluation and
priorities setting exercise on future targeted crops and activities in

plant breeding and
related fields such as biotechnology, crop protection and physiology, in light for recent
advances of science, globalization of the word economy and comparative advantages
of plant breeding and biotechnology at INRA compared with the un
iversity and the
private sector. Such exercise may need to be addressed both at national level with
local farmers organisations, local communities, priv
ate

sector and scientists of NARS
as well as in the region. We recommend a national consultation in this

aspect with an
international support.




Biotechnology has been one of the major challenges for INRA breeding programs
which offered new opportunities for further improving breeding efficiency through
introgression and characterisation of new genes, reducti
on of breeding periods and
improving mass production.
Yet specific attention should be devoted in our view to
improving breeding efficiency trough an increased coordination among plant breeders
and with biotechnology and devoting further attention to ethic
al aspects of
biotechnology trough improving biosecurity measures. Biotechnology is one of the
major fields were there is need for further integration of ongoing activities on
biotechnology with universities through development of outreach projects in this

field
and seeking for further externality of some activities in biotechnology.




The lack of an integrated data management information system that embrace many
crops and collaborative partners and categories of related information including
identification

of germplasm, pedigree information, field testing, and newly available
molecular with an open programming environment, allowing access to different
database systems and dynamic link libraries, will expose plant breeding activities at
high risks with its r
ecurrent problem of continuity of breeding activities. Therefore
there is an urgent need for developing a specific project this aspect. The actual SIG
(systeme d’information de gestion) initiative is a good initiative but it needs putting
more emphasis on
research activities.




Breeding activities may not be sustained in the future if adequate measures are not
taken for developing a more systematic allocation policy of financial resources and
evaluation of breeding activities and increasing of funding resour
ces particularly for
supporting operational costs of breeding and biotechnology activities. Conventional
breeding is no longer attractive activity because of donor fatigue for any long term
investment of such nature. New opportunities may be however explor
ed trough
specific CGIAR Challenge Programs devoted to plant breeding activities.



Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB)

7

Part I: Strategy, major goals and genetic progress of plant breeding and
biotechnology
activities
at INRA
-
Morocco


1. Overall
research
agenda

The National Research Agronomi
c Institute (INRA) is an autonomous public institution
administered by the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development, and Maritime Fisheries
(MADRPM) mandated to undertake research for agriculture development. IN
RA

accounts for
roughly 40 percent of all a
gricultural research staff and expenditures a
mong the nineteen
agencies involved in
public agricultural research in
Morocco
, it is therefore the largest
research institution and the only
public
agency exclusively devot
ed to research
in agriculture
(Stads a
nd K
issi
, 2005
).


INRA global mandates are to:

-

undertake scientific and technical research on crops, animal an natural resources
improvement as well as on

socio
-
economical aspects for agriculture development;

-

unsure within it’s global mand
a
te, investigati
on and control
of research and studies
accounted for public institutions;

-

disseminate information and documentation on agriculture research and
its
own products
;

-

participate in the process of technology transfer and investigate modalities for adoption of
t
hese technologies;

-

undertake

actions for commercialization of its products and results.


INRA staff is composed 279 scientists and
administrators as well as
338 technicians. The
overall basics infrastructure includes 10 Regional Agricultural Research Centr
es (RARC)
encompassing all existing agro
-
systems
,
23 experimental stations and 30 research units in
charge of planning and i
mplementing research activities.


Research activities at INRA includes, genetic improvement and biotechnology of field and
horticult
ural crops, pests and diseases management control, sustainable natural resources
management, quality improvement and food
processing, animal breeding and nutrition,
socio
-
economical investigations and research development
.


Mandated

crops
are
fi
eld

crops s
uch as bread wheat, durum, barley, food legumes such
chickpea, faba

bean and lentils, forages mainly oats and alfalfa, horticulture crops
such as

date
palm,
o
live,
citrus
,

fruit trees

such as almond, fig and apricot
and vegetables such as
melon
.

Recently r
esearch

was initiated o
n
aromatic and
medicinal pla
n
ts and

cactus.


The breeding strategy at INRA has been never documented nor
systematically

evaluated
apart

from some consul
tation made within the frame
work of the project of U
SAID
/MIAC and
ICARDA. However
, from our experience, we can assess the major changes in the overall
plant breeding research agenda which could be summ
a
rized as follow
s
:


-

From the

agroecological stand point,
dry land research farming became one of the
major
fields

of research since 1980
. This was a consequence of the prevailing drought
conditions and its recurrent government policy for agriculture development during the
19
80s. This led to the development
in the

Settat region of premises on dry farming
research with the collaboration of t
he USAID/MIAC consortium as well as a development
of a national program on
d
ate palms with collaboration of FAO and UNDP at Marrakech.
In 1994 however new programs for selection of fields crops such as cereals, food
legumes and oil crops were put forward f
or favourable rainfed areas. Recently
mountainous regions gained some importance because of their socio
-
economical roles
and the rising concerns of the natural resources management sustainability.



Report on Plant Breeding
and related Biotechnology Capacity


Morocco

8

-

On
the
commodity
side
,

INRA commodity goods such as cerea
ls, food legumes and
forages and horticultural trees such as date palms, olives and citrus have been the major
field of excellence of its research agenda. There has been however, de
-
emphasis on
commodity groups such as oil seed crops and cotton since 2003.

Recently alternative
crops such
as
cactus, medicinal aromatic and herbal plants (MAP) gained importance.


-

From
the
disciplinary point of view,
research on crop physiology significantly
increased to cope with the increasing demand for studies on abiotic st
resses such as
drought, heat and salinity tolerances. However biotechnolog
y was the most important
change

in term
s

of resource allocation and was significantly boosted up during the last
fifteen years. It became one of the major fields of interest in the o
verall scientific research
agenda and led to construction of new premises at regional research of Rabat and
Kenitra regional centres in addition to previous facilities at Marrakech and Settat regional
centres.


-

On the global management,
the latest reform w
hich becomes effective
in

2003,
introduced significant institutional changes through
the
development 30 research
disciplinary units at the regional centres in replacement of
the
previous national
commodity programs. In terms of implicati
on

on plant breedin
g, this may lead to
recognizing the role of local endogenous local species, increasing role of specific
adaptation and may affect the overall strategy of plant breeding and its outcome.



2. Plant

breeding
strategies and
priorities

Plant breeding has bee
n recognized as the major tool for green revolution and has been
instrumental in boosting crop production in both developed and developing countries. High
yielding varieties of rice and wheat were at the heart of the spectacular increase in food
production

in Asia and elsewhere. In CWANA region, modern varieties contributed up to 43%
of
barley
at production during the first phase of adoption

(Shideed and El Mourid, 2005)
. A
recently published study estimating the value of the CGIAR’s activities, reports a b
enefit
-
cost
ratio of 9.0 for the $7.12 billion invested. Th
e benefit
-
cost
ratio
rises to 17.3 when
extrapolated through 2011 under the assumption that research benefits will continue to be
realised at present rates

(Gardener, 2003)
. This confirms similar f
inding
at INRA
Morocco

were
every dollar invested in the development of Hessian
f
ly
bread wheat
resistant cultivars,
generate
s

$9 additional benefit with profitability ratio in such investment of 37
%

(
Azzam
et

al
.
,
1997)
.


Plant breeding
has been a centra
l core of the
research agenda
at INRA
and
was the major
driving force for funding research activities.
The
existence of a
formal system of variety
cataloguing and
well organized
private

seed
sector and adequate
incentive
policies
for
certified seed uses ha
d a significant impact on the overall adoption of improved
cultivars.


It is not sure however that the allocation of resources
counterbalanced
such performance
since there is no formal resource
allocation
par activity and the existing financial system
prov
ides

very little flexibility to the overall management of INRA.

Hence it
always
remains
difficult to objectively assess breeding priorities in term
s of

predetermined resources
allocation.



Nevertheless, in terms of human resources, research activities and

outputs, we can easily
assess that breeding of bread wheat, durum, barley for cereals, pate palm, olive and citrus,
forage species such as oats and alfalfa and food legumes such as faba bean chickpea and
lentils received the highest priority in the resear
ch agenda.
Other species such as fruit trees
(walnut, apricot, pistachios, pomes, pear etc.) and industrial crops such as sunflower,
safflower
,
colza or

sugar beet as well as vegetable
s

occupied ambiguous position which

Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB)

9

largely depended on

the research pol
icy of the moment,
the performance of researchers and
the
availability of finding

resources.



We will therefore examine in more
detail h
ow the overall strategy and the
plant breeding
goals evolved over time for major species.


2.1
Cereals

Cereals are th
e most widely grown and consumed food crop in Morocco with an average of
5
.
3

million hectares which represents 60% of total cultivated area. 90% of cultivated area is
rainfed.
B
arley is the main crop with 45
%

of
the
total
cultivated
cereal area, bread whea
t
represents 30
%

and durum 22
%

(MADRPM
, 2005
)
.



Cereal breeding
has

been the main research component
of INRA
breeding
programs.
It is
one of the strongest breeding programs in the WANA region. A major breakthrough
was
achieved

in the field of Hessian fly
resistance.
Genetic gain due to wheat improved
varieties

in rainfed area is about 1
.
55
%

per annum and water use efficiency improved from 1.5 Kg/mm
to 2.5 Kg /mm.

Potential yields of released
of bread wheat
varieties

was improved from 8
-
12
quintals/ha

to

m
ore
than
75

q
uintal
s/ha

(
Jlibene, 2005)
.



International centres such as CIMMYT and ICARDA played a key role in sustaining such
achievement
s

through provision of genetic resources
and training of NARS scientists
or
technicians
.

D
evolution of breeding activ
ities to Morocco
through
decentralized selection of
barley and wheat Hessian fly and rust resistance
, helped foster further more

the INRA role in
the region.

INRA scientists
are actually posted at
ICARDA
and
are
play
ing a
key role in
the
international
whea
t
and barley
breeding program
s
.


Bread wheat

Bread wheat breeding program
was
initiated in 192
1

at Rabat station. Early
selection of
genetic stocks
was made
among
local landraces and introduced varieties from the
Mediterranean region (
Tunisia, Algeria) or

other regions (India, Australia, USA, France and
Italy).
At that time barley (
Hordeum vulgare
) and durum
(
Tricticum durum
)
predominate
s

the
cropping system

along with other species such as rye (
Secale cereal
),
Triticum
monococcum
,
T.

dicoccum

and
T.

polon
icum

L
. (
Jlibene, 2005
)
.
The
n
afterward
hybridisation
was initiated
to

further
explo
ring
the existing
genetic variability.

P
otential
yield
, rusticity
and grain quality
then
starting from
1930
,
processing

standard
s

(
W
over
150)

used to be criteria of selecti
on
.


The first released cultivars
were 4
varieties

from
Algerian

origin
,
then
3 from
Indian

(Pusa
type), 2 from Australia and 1
from France
(Florence)
.

Bread wheat cultivars such as
“Cailloux” and “Florence” and “Florence Aurora” were among the most widely

used cultivars
during early century (
INRA, 1948).


During the
19
60s, the

first semi
-
dwarf genotypes and early maturing varieties of Mexican
origin were introduced. The success of such varieties
among which Siete Cerros and Potam,
was limited and they were

immediately
disc
arded
because of their
susceptibility

and the huge
damage caused by
Septoria tritici
.


In 1973, the
first high yielding
cultivar

Nasma


which originated from a cross of Florence

and
A
urore C
.

was

selected.
This
was a major breakthrough o
f the national breeding program at
INRA

since it d
ominate
d the wheat

production
spectrum
for more than two
decades
. Nasma

is
semi
-
dwarf
genotype
,

it has a
high potential

yield an
d enhanced stability
,

it is
resistan
t to
lodging and to Leaf rust
(Puccinia re
condita f.sp. tritici)

and has good grain quality (
large
seeded
)
that f
armers appreciated
most (
Jlibene, 2005)
.



Report on Plant Breeding
and related Biotechnology Capacity


Morocco

10

Since early
19
80s, a wide breeding program was initiated using CIMMYT varieties

as
parental lines in the hybridization program. This resulted i
n release of more productive
cultivar such as

Merchouch


and

Jouda


which in tern
outweighed

Nasma

. The CIMMYT
genetic materiel used to have

useful common features such
as,

earliness

and good
adaptation

to Moroccan
diverse
conditions
, probably resultin
g from the concept of mega
-
environments broad
-
based strategy of plant germplasm resources used at th
is center
(Rajaram

et al, 1995
). Most materiel received
from this center
was
spring or facultative wheat
not sensitive to photoperiod and resistant to rusts
. It has however two major
problems
, it
is
susceptible to

septoria (Septoria

tritici, Mycosphaerella, graminicola
) and to Hessian fly
(
Mayetiola destructor (Say)
).


A specific breeding pr
o
gram th
r
o
u
gh hybridization was then initiated
since 1987
,

one for
se
mi
-
arid

and
the other for sub
-
humid conditions
,

with major objectives of improving
resistance to Hessian fly and Leaf rust for the first environment and septoria and Leaf rust for
the second

(Jlibene, 2005)
.

The USAID/MIAC project on dry
land

played a key
role in
fostering the breeding program on Hessian fly resistance

at INRA Morocco
. That was a
formidable challenge for agricultural science and for improved wheat production technologies
of th
is
century. Indeed Hessian fly does cause serious damage
which
is

about
30% loss and
reaches 100
% in case of late
sowing (INRA
, 2004)
. The overall economical loss is about 200
millions $ per year.
In 1997, two bread wheat cultivars “Aguilal’ and “Arrehane” both resistant
to Hessian fly were released to farmers.


Of the

32 genes expressing different level of
tolerance or
antibiosis ag
ainst Hessian fly
larvae
, identified in the USA, t
en
genes (H5, H7H8, H11, H13, H14H15, H21, H22, H23, H25,
and H26) were selected as conferring resistance to Hessian fly in the field in Mor
occo
. Most
o
f the
se genes
are located on

the A or the D genomes. The H22 gene has been successfully
introgressed into adapted
M
oroccan bread wheat cultivars (
Lha
l
oui et al,

2000
)
.


Alternative pest

which

are gaining importance are
Sunn pest

and

Russian aph
ids.

A
ccessions of
Triticum monococcum

from ICARDA combining both Hessain fly and
Russian
aphids
resistance
are

being used in the breeding program.


Since 1995, a comprehensive breeding program was initiated on drought tolerance and heat
stresses using con
ventional breeding and most advanced tools in biotechnology.


Durum wheat

T
he
objectives of the initial plant breeding program were

to improve productivity, response to
high inputs and good pasta quality.
Mountainous and oasis l
ocal land races provided ba
sic
genetic resources. Since 1930
five
cultivars were released among which
durum whe
a
t

Z
emarek”, “Sbei” and “
BD
-
2777


which continued to be grown in mountainous areas until
recently because of its outstanding
quality
.

These genotypes were however late mat
uring
and
susceptible to lodging

(INRA, 1948)
.


During the
19
6
0s, a new breeding program was initiated through intraspecific hybridization
with bread wheat and wild relatives for improving yield components, disease resistance to
rust and Hessian fly. Such
effort did not lead to any significant progress because of narrow
genetic base for selection and depreciation
of durum quality
due to interspecific crosses
(
Nsarellah et al, 2005)
.


Since the
19
70s, collaboration with CIMMYT then with ICARDA helped provide

new genetic
resources and led to increasing genetic variability of durum ge
r
mplasm and
led to release
of
two cultivars “Cocorit” and “Haj
-
Mouline”. These varieties were high yielding and
more
ad
apted than previous
cultivars
but their quality limited their

adoption in mountainous areas.



Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB)

11

Since

1980, the breeding program took a step forward through improvement of diseases
resistance
to
root rote caused by
Fusarium sp
. and
Helminthosporium (
Pyrenophora tritici
-
repentis
) a
nd rusts
:

Stripe rust (
Puccinia strii
formis
)
, Leaf

rust (
Puccinia recondita
) Stem rust
(
Puccinia graminis
)
. Selection within introduced germplasm and hybridization led to release
eleven
cultivars among which

Karim


from Tunisian origin,

Acsad
-
65


from

ACSAD

,

Tassouat


and

Oum
-
rabia


fro
m the national breeding program

(Nsarellah et al, 2005)
.



As for bread wheat, Hessian fly became the most important common feature of the wheat
breeding program.
Genetic resistance to Mediterranean Hessian fly biotypes has not been
found initially in duru
m wheat, although large numbers of durum accessions were screened.
Genes for resist
ance were found in common wheat,

some of which
were
transferable to
durum.
G
enetic base
was further broadened
through introgression of resistance
genes
from
selected
Triticu
m

araraticum

and
T.

carthlicum

accessions using multiple backcross
methodology (
Nsarellah et al, 2003).


This led to release of the most significant and
the most significant
result
through registration
of the first
cultivar
s

resistant to Hessian fly and t
olerant to drought i
n 200
3
.


Durum wheat grain is used to prepare various products including pasta and couscous. The
acceptability of
a
durum variety is greatly influenced by its quality characteristics. These
products generally require large vitreous kern
els with high protein, good yellow pigment and
strong to medium
-
strong gluten. Thus, the incorporation of quality characters essential for
end
-
use products is
now days the
major

challenge for
durum breeding program.
In response
to mil industry, a
new proje
ct was initiated since 2005 in order to improve the yellow pigment
related to the carotenoid
and protein content
of the endosperm.


Barley

About
80
%
of
barley grain production is used as animal feed on farms and the
remaining is

used as food. Morocco is r
anked first

worldwide for
food

and feeds
barley consumption with
the estimated average of 54.8 kg per capita consumed annually

and is the 7th largest barley
producer in the word.
Morocco is considered one of

the major
centre

of diversity for
cultivated bar
ley (
Hordeum vulgare
L.). This is

evidenced by the large genetic variability
found between and within barley landraces

and
existence
of numerous wild
relatives
including populations

of the wild progenitor

of cultivated barley
H. vulgare ssp.
S
pontaneum

col
lected

in the low Atlas region (
Molina
-
Cano, et al. 1999)
.


Barley breeding began in 1924 with the selection of lines from
introduced two row barley
accessions from the US, Australia and Europe as well as selection among sex row
domestic
landraces
. The lat
er program led to selection and release of two cultivars “077” and “071”
among local populations which
are widely grown
up
today
by
most
farmers
.

This clearly
shows the importance of the genetic diversity in Morocco

(Saidi et al, 2005)
.


Several accessions

have been introduced afterward and a new breeding program was
initiated since 1970 for improving
two
-
row barley which led to release of several cultivars
among which Brasserie Maroc, Tamellalt and Asni.

This type of genotype was not
easily

accepted by
far
mers

who
prefer the six
-
row barley though
there is now evidence of
their
superiority
.


Since 1980, new accessions were introduced from the US in order to improved earliness and
harvest index. Several accessions were also introduced from ICARDA with the ma
in
objective of improving forage and grain yield
s

and disease resistance for leaf rust

Puccinia
hordei,

powdery mildew

Erysiphe graminis

f.

sp.hordei
,

net blotch

Pyrenophora teres f.sp
.
teres and

BYDV

virus

(Saidi et al, 2005)
.



Report on Plant Breeding
and related Biotechnology Capacity


Morocco

12

During this period there
wa
s a

renewed interest
for barley
as a food component

for human
consumption.

I
ts

high soluble dietary fiber and β
-
glucan content compared with other

cereals
as well as
the
new prospect of
hull
-
less barley
genotypes that can be
easily separated from
the hulls after

t
hreshing
could facilitate the use of barley grain for bread

making and

other
nutritional foods.

An additional program to develop hull
-
less food barley varieties was
initiated in 1985.Hull less barley helped initiated a wide food processing program for
diverse
dietary uses. However, the difficulty of handling the seeds

and th
eir reduced seed
-
germination capability

limited their inscription in
the
national
catalogue

(Amri and Saidi, 2005)
.


Since 2003 a new breeding program was initiated with two major components, one for
marginal
rainfed
land
(
dry

land
s and high

elevations
are
as
)
,

the second for favorable
conditions.
F
or the first
production system
,
participatory breeding

of local land races
population,

in situ
-
conservation and
on
farmer seed production

are the main features

of the
breeding program
.
For t
he
second, the objectiv
e is
to develop p
ure lines

through
conventional breeding method
s

within
a
long term

strategy aiming at the introduction

of male
sterility for production of synthetic varieties

(Saidi et al, 2005).


Production of varieties with increased mineral and vitamin
s contents is an
other recent area of
research
lunched
with collaboration with IC
A
RDA.

A new breeding project on biofortification
aiming

to
mitigate

the problem of
micronutrients

deficiency by
improving

zinc
and

iron
contents
, was recently initiated
.
But th
is program remains relatively limited though its
importance.


Maize


Cultivated area
is
about 267

000 ha
75
%

is rainfed,

15%
irrigated and
10%
in mountains.
Total rainfall in cultivated area is about
350 mm
with
50
to 100

mm

during the cropping
season. The
refore drought
is a
serious limiting factor to
corn production
. Dew may
however
play

a key role since most
cultivated region area is in costal region
.



Initial breeding program started
at Rabat
in 1947 with collection of 75 local land races
. The
bulk of t
his collection was constituted of early maturing populations with short stalks and ears,
white or yellow grain
,
semi
-
flour or dent corn
.



From 1947 to 196
5

an
extensive
breeding program was underway with introduction of nearly
256 lines and 281 varieties
from various countries mainly US
and
France

but also from
various countries such as Portugal, Brazil and Spain

(Cornu
, 1965
)
. During this period the
program benefited also from an early FAO project aiming at introduction of US corn
technologies
in
Europe.
Breeding strategy evolved over that
period
as follows:

-

selection of corn varieties among local populations and introduced accessions
;

-

selection of

adapted hybrids

among
American corn hybrids;

-

creation of

top
-

cross varieties resulting from hybr
idization o
f locale varieties

(
such as

Doukkala


and

Agouraï

)

and simple hybrids;

-

selection of double

hybrids
from
simple hybrids;

-

creation of double hybrids with large genetic basis

for rainfed
agriculture
.


High yield potential, adaptation to rainfed agriculture
, earliness

and
dent yellow seeds were
used as selection criteria. TX
-
21 was among the most important corn top
-
cross variety
selected
released
during
this period
and c
ontinue
d

to be used for almost
two decades.


D
uring the
19
70s
, the program put more empha
sis
on top
-
cross varieties and simple hybrid

production
.

Selection criteria included
diseases resistance to rust
(
Puccinia sorghi
)
and corn
-
stalk borer, Sesamia
(
Sesamia
nonagrioides
)
.


Since 1980, a high priority
was given
to
selection of variety populat
ions for
rainfed agriculture
.
Three varieties
“Kamla”, “Mabchoura” and “Doukkalia”
in 1991

were released
from such

Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB)

13

program.
A small pro
ject
was also initiated in the dry land program for production of synthetic
populations but was resumed.



Up to now 16 c
orn hybrids and 5 variety populations were registered in the
catalogue
. Yet
their utilization
remains

problematic because of the overall situation of corn production.


Some breeding work was also devoted to g
r
ain sorghum, but such work was neither
systemat
ic nor continued.


Triticale

Triticale varieties were initially introduced during the
19
60s from
CIMMYT.
Adaptation
trials
carried
out by INRA confirmed the superiority of tr
i
ticales in costal sandy
acid
soils
of
favorable areas
and

in mountains (
Mergoum

and Kellida
,
1997).
During the
19
80s cultivated
area was about 10

000 to 15

000 ha
. A
ctually the production of tri
ti
cales

is abandoned
apart
from few acres of forage mixture.
The number of released cereal cultivars
and
the
difficulty of
commercialization
have been two major handicaps for trit
i
cal
es

production in Morocco.


During the first period breeding objectives were high
grain yield
and
adaptation to different
agro
-
ecological
conditions. F
orage

biomass

and
straw
quality

(Dry matter yield, haying
requir
ement, regeneration after cutting and MAT) were afterward included because of the
increasing interest to triticales as forage crop
.

Screening for diseases resistance was carried
out for rust
, septoria

and Hessian fly.


Five cultivars of triticales
were re
leased in 1988
among which Juanillo and Beagle
. A new
dual purpose tritical
es,


B
asma” for forage and grain production was released in 2002.
Triticales still remains a secondary crop for cereal breeding though its high potential for
chicken feed industry a
nd forage production. A
n outreach regional

breeding program
for
Mediterranean areas
was initiated with CIMMYT during the
19
80s
but this project

was
resumed afterward.


Cereal genetic gain

In order to evaluate the genetic gain in cereal breeding we request
ed from a panel of
INRA
plant breeders
currently
working in Morocco or in International centers such as ICARDA
to
evaluate genetic
toward achievement of breeding goals
. The
results are

summarized
in
T
able 1
.



Report on Plant Breeding
and related Biotechnology Capacity


Morocco

14

Table 1:

Major breeding goals
and the genetic
progress
*


Major
crops


Major breeding goals

Genetic progress *

Bread wheat



Potential &yield stability



Leaf rust resistance



septoria resistance



Hessian fly resistance



Russian aphids resistance



Multiple resistance



Drought tolerance


1

2

3

2

5

3

2


Durum wheat



Potential &yield stability



root rote and Helminthosporium resistance



rusts resistance



Hessian fly resistance



Drought tolerance



Quality (yellow pigments and protein)



Multiple resistance



Specific adaptability (High lands)


2


3


2


1


3


4


3


3

Barley



Potential &yield stability



leaf rust resistance



powdery mildew resistance



net blotch resistance



BYDV virus resistance.



Feeding values



Biofortification (Zn, Fe)


2


2


3


3


4


2


5

*
Genetic progress: estimated by breedi
ng panel:
5

least progress to
1

major achievement



2.2
Food legumes

Food legumes are important pulse crops in the Moroccan agriculture. Total cultivated areas
is about 350

000 hectares, 43% of which is F
aba bean, 19% chickpea, 14
%

lentil and 9%
peas. They

are important source of protein and they play an important role in the cereals
rotation system.

This role becomes however limited because of the decline of cultivated
areas and the overall changes in human diet.


Faba beans

The major objective of early f
aba bean breeding program in 1949 was to collect and identify
genetic source of high
yielding

varieties
with acceptable seed size
among
local
land races
and introduced
accessions
from Spain
or
Italy. The result was the release during the
19
50s
of
six culti
vars

of faba bean m
i
nor and major and collection of more than 200 accessions

(Fatemi and al, 2005)
.


In 197
9
, the food legume breeding program knew fundamental changes through
collaboration with ICARDA.
In 1988, the CGIAR decided to develop an outreach fab
a bean
program in Morocco and transferred the ICARDA faba bean breeding
program
to INRA. This
program was resumed in 1991 and collaborative projects were developed afterward with
GTZ for the North Africa region, through networking projects such as REMAFEVE
, REMALA
and Parasitic weeds.


Breeding for high yield and
tolerance
to orobanche (
Orobanche crenata

Forsk
)
,
resistance to
botrytis

(
botrytis faba
) and nematodes (
Ditylenchus dipsaci
)
,
became the most challenging
issue
s

to
the faba bean breeding.

Orobanche

crenata, a

parasitic weed
,

has been the most
limiting factor for faba bean production. In Morocco, infestation of Orobanche in
cultivated
food
legumes
crops, evolved
from 12% in 1981, 26% in 1994, to 30% in 2001 and

reached

51% in 2003

with estimated aver
age yield losses

in 1998 of
37.4%
(Abu
-
Irmaileh and
Labrada, 2005).



Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB)

15

However,
t
he expected progress

remain
s
very slow because of the major difficulty for
combining quantitative
characteristics
involv
ing r
esistance to

Orobanche, yield per plant and
large
se
ed size

(Cubero and Hernandez, 1991
)
.
Today,
in spite of
some genetic progress

(release of one line Sel.88 Lat 181
05, faba bean minor tolerant to
orabanche)
, the main
challenge remains however
is the introgression of multiple resistance to both
orobanche a
nd
botrytis in large seeded type.


Chickpea

Chickpea

is the

second most important legume.

It is cultivated as spring crop.

Early breeding
program
,

initiated since 1920
,

put more emphasis on
germplasm

collection of spring
chickpea of large seeded
Kabuli

typ
es.

Breeding work was strengthened in 1943
with
germplasm

collection
of both kabuki and specific Desi
-
types

maintained during winter season
for
ascochyta blight

evaluation
.
Do
the
plant breeder at that time w
as
aware of the
potential
of
winter chickpea? Th
ere were no evidence for this
,

nevertheless
a
winter hardy types were
maintained at this collection and t
wo
spring chickpea
of
Kabuli type
, “
PCH
34


and

PCH
37

,
were rel
eased

fro
m

such
program
.

The require
ment of

large
r

seed size
and competition of
Mexica
n and Spanish types in the commerce, were

a serious handicap for
any further
progress in
the breeding program.


In 1978
, INRA

initiated a new breeding program on horizontal resistance of spring chickpea
to ascochyta blight

(
Ascochyta rabiei (Pass.)
)

with
F
AO
collaboration
.
Extensive works on
screening and breeding methodolog
ies
were developed within the frame work of such
program
. About
26 lines with durable resistance

were selected from this program
.
However,
t
he
specific
nature of blight
pathogenic variab
ility
in

M
orocco
, limited

the release of such
breeding
material
.

It
is
worth mentioning that such program
was afterward extended to cover
durable resistance of F
aba bean
to orobanche
and
tomato
to F
usarium wilt, but th
is program
was not continued.


T
he re
newed interest for
chickpea became however very clear through collaboration

with
ICARDA
-
ICRISAT program posted at ICARDA

since
19
7
9
. T
he
introduction of the concept of
winter

chickpea completely changed the configuration of the breeding program.

Winter
pla
nting

in November
of
winter hardy
genotypes

was
suggested

as an alternative option for
increasing
yield and stability in

semi
-
arid environments.
Resistance to Ascochyta Blight
become a prerequisite in such situation because of the major blast of the diseas
e during the
winter season.
Potential yield
s of winter chickpea
was increased to
more than 2.0

t/ha

as
compared
with
0.6 t/ha
of
spring chickpea
. This
represents
an overall increase

of nearly
210
%

with
an
e
arliness

of

25 to 45 days (Kamal, 1990).


Two vari
eties ILC 482 and ILC 195 were released in 1987 but their seed size was too small
to be accepted by farmers.

Further collaboration with ICARDA led to release

since 1992

of 5
new winter

chickpea cultivars

with larger seed size among

witch

Douyet


and

Moub
arak

.

The high seed cost of such cultivars
has been one of the
major handicap for any further use
s

of this genetic materiel by farmers.


In view of the lesson learned farmers’ field and difficulty to recognize winter sown chickpea
fro
m

spring type and the

high risk for planting
the lat
t
er
at early season, a new breeding
approach was initiated
in
1987 aiming at selection of dual season chickpea adapted for
both
spring and winter season
s
.


Lentil

B
reeding program
of this
crop

followed the same pattern, wit
h release of two cultivars L26
and L56 large seeded type from the early work
s
. Intensive breeding program was initiated
with ICARDA, then with Washington
State University
-
USDA
.
The main objectives of the new
breeding program were to improve
the yields
, res
istance to rust
(
Uromyces viciae
-
fabae)

and
earliness. The first resistant cultivars

to rust

“Bakria”

named after “Precoz”

from Argentina


Report on Plant Breeding
and related Biotechnology Capacity


Morocco

16

origin
, was

released in 1989 and the first
a cross bred
cultivar “Chaouia
” of L
aird and Precoz
,
was released in 2004

(
Sakr, 2005)
. The overall increase of yield potential was above 130
%

and
earliness by three weeks
in addition to
rust
resistance.

The later character was the major
accomplishment during the last twenty years and significant yield improvement was achieved
th
rough selection on new inbred lines.


Unless other food legume crops, there has been a wide spread of the new released cultivars
in most cases through informal channels from farmers to farmers seed production.
M
assive
importation of lentils from Canada is
ho
we
ver causing serious traits to
local
lentil production
and will
seriously affect the overall impact of INRA achievements.


Food
legume
s

genetic

gain

To conclude,

major achievement toward breeding goals
in food legumes
could be
summarized

as follows
.


T
able 2: Major breeding goals
ad g
enetic progress
*


Major
c
rops

Major breeding goals

Genetic progress *

Faba beans



Potential &yield stability



Botrytis resistance



Rusts resistance



Nematode resistance



Orobanche resistance



Multiple resistance

(botrytis&orobanche)


2

4

3

5

3

5

Lentil



Potential &yield stability



Rust resistance



Earliness



Mechanical harvesting



Cooking quality

2

2

2

3

3

Chickpea



Potential &yield stability



Ascochyta blight resistance



Fusarium wilt resistance



Seed size



Wi
nter adaptation



Dual season

1

2

4

3

2

3


*
Genetic progress: estimated by
a
breeding panel:
5

least progress to
1

major achievement




2.3 Forages

Feeding sources in Morocco are: c
rop residues and fallow (35.9
%
),
natural pastures

(21
%
)
,

cereals mainly

barley (15.7
%
), forage fodder (14.2
%
) and
industrial

by
-
products

(13
%
)
.
R
angelands and unproductive lands

are about 52,900,000 ha
.
Fodder
forage
are grown on

approximately 386

000 hectares, t
his includes annuals such as oats

(19.5
%
)
, fodder barley

(26.5%)
, berseem
(12.6
%
), and fodder

maize

(4.5%),
and perennial
Lucerne

is about
22.8
%

(Chaouki et al, 2005)
.


Forage and pasture seed production is less developed compared to other crops. This is due
probably to the fact that forage seeds are considered by farm
ers as by
-
product
s
. Therefore,
most seeds are produced and distributed through the informal
channels
.


The most important forage crops are Lucerne, berseem clover, barley and maize under
irrigation; oat, vetch, barley, ryegrass, fodder peas, and annual me
dic in the rainfed zones.
P
erennial grasses (
Dactylis, Festuca, Agropyron
, etc.), annual medics, clovers and fodder
shrubs (
Atriplex, Acacia, and native shrubs
)

are important alternatives for range improvement.



Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB)

17

Primary works on forage breeding during colo
nial period
, began with extensive
collection
and
characterization
of pasture species and fodder crops for the cattle Production Systems.

Important documentations were reported on
species

such as
Trifolium, Lucerne,
medicago,
crotalaria and lupine,
oats
and

other species
(
Villax,
1963

and INRA,

1948
-
49
).


But it was until 1980 that the forage breeding program knew the most important changes
in
the

overall
research
strategy
based on commodity program
with
in the frame work of
a
long

term cooperation with GTZ
.


During
a
first phase

of such cooperation, research put more emphasis
on pasture

forage for
mixed
livestock small ruminant livestock production system
s
. Breeding works concerned the
following categories of forage species

(Alfaïz,
2003
)
:

-

Pastoral leguminou
s species (
Medicago spp., Trifolium subterraneum, Trifolium
fragiferum, Lotus corniculatus)
;

-

pastoral perennial grasses (
Ehrharta calycina, Festuca arundinacea, Phalaris aquatica,
Lolium rigidum
);

-

fodder crops such as oats, maize, Lucerne and beta forage;

-

Forage

mixture species cultivated in associations
such as vetch, peas, oats and triticales.



Breeding strategies covered several aspects depending on the species:



selection among imported

pre
-
selected material from

international Research
C
entres

or
from

bilateral collaborations;




selection in segregating material after target

crosses;



selection of local collected ecotypes;



and i
ntroduction o
f selected varieties from other countries.




Major selection criteria include forage biomass and grain yields, fo
rage quality, palatability,
anti
-
nutritional factors and diseases resistance. During this phase significant progress were
achieved through selection of local biotypes of
Medicago spp
and
Trifulium subterraneum

adapted to acid soils better than Australian e
cotypes
used in lay farming operation
.


Along with the regular breeding program, a major breakthrough was achieved
through
collection and evaluation of
local
forage genetic resources with collaboration with GTZ,
ICARDA and Centre

for Legumes in Mediterran
ean

Agriculture (CLIMA) at the University of
WA (UWA)

in Australia. Collected accessions
from 1993 to 2005
are summarized in
table
(end of part I)
.

The GTZ project helped install the first long term storage facilities of INRA in
Rabat centre.


During the s
econd phase

the breeding program put more emphasis on traditional forage
cultivated species
readily a
ccept
able by
farmers.
Priority was then allocated to
O
at
s
,
Lucerne,
and lupine
, peas
, vetch and

forage mixture
.


Oats

Oats (
A. sativa
)
used to be a tradit
ional crop for the breeding program though it gained
importance during the last fifteen years. Oats
were introduced to Morocco by the French at
the beginning of the twentieth century. At that time, most forage came mainly from natural
grazing, stubbles, fa
llow,
Lucerne

and barley. There were several reasons for the success of
oats: it

was a crop that French farmers knew well, and yielded several products, such as
grain and forage, or could be mixed with vetch. It was also in particular immune to the
Hessian

fly that caused serious damage to other
cereals (Grillot, 1939)
.

In Morocco, Oat
is grown

essentially in rainfed areas, almost exclusively for forage

hay,
alone or as a mixture with annual legumes

such as
vetch.

The current areas are about

Report on Plant Breeding
and related Biotechnology Capacity


Morocco

18

70

000 ha for o
ats and 50

000 ha for oat

and
vetch
mixture. In recent years, there has been
an increase
interest for
oats pure
cropping resulting from the
difficult
ies for practicing forage
mixtures,
non
-
availability of adapted and synchronized

varieties, weed control,
h
igh cost and
scarcity of vetch seed

(AlFaiz et al, 2004).

The first varieties from Europe did poorly in Morocco. Thereafter, Grillot (193
9
) introduced
“B
yzantina


types from Algeria, which constituted the genetic basis for the first locally
selected variet
ies. Some of these varieties are still grown, such as

Roummani

,

Zhiliga


and

Tiddes

, but they are now very susceptible to the common diseases and cannot cover all the
potential ecological zones for oats. Locally produced oat seeds are mainly a mixture

of these
varieties, with some imported admixtures.

The
actual breeding oats
program aims

to select cultivars adapted to three ecological
areas,
favourable rainfed
, semi
-
arid and highlands. The
following criteria
for selection have been
used (Al
Faiz
et al
, 2005):

Forage oats for biomass production

Grain oats

-

dry mater yield;

-

forage quality: digestibility,
%

MAT, palatability, silage
and Haying properties;

-


tolerance to the most important diseases of oats in
Morocco: stem

rusts (
Puccinia graminis Pers. f.s
p.
avenae
)
,

and Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus (BYDV);

-

resistance to lodging and shattering;

-

earliness for semi
-
arid areas, mid
-
earliness to late for
favourable rainfed areas, and late for the mountains

-

grain yields;

-

quality: protein content, metabolic energy,
beta
-
glucan
content;

-

Resistance to rust, to BYDV and to Crown rust, caused
by
Puccinia coronata f.sp
. avenae


From this breeding program
,

seventeen
cultivars
were
registered in the national catalogue
and released to farmers. Among such cultivars “Rommani”

realised in
1982, “Ghali”
, “Faras”

and “Soualem” in 1989,
selected from introduced accessions
and “Bounejmat” and “Allal”
released in 2003
, from national hybridization program

(AlFaiz et al, 2005).


Significant progress has been mad in breeding for disea
ses resistance such as rusts and
powdery mildew, yet resistance to BYDV remains one of the biggest challenge to oat breeding.



Morocco is a centre of genetic diversity of the genus Avena. According to the morphological
species concept, 32 s
pecies have bee
n named

(
Ladizinsky
, 2000) and more recently
13
species

recently identified using

criteria for biological species

(Alfaiz et al, 2004)
. During the
last ten years, an important breeding program was initiated in order to
make use of
the full
potentials of wi
ld
tetraploids

oats, A
. murphyi

and
A. magna
,
as
resources
of
protein and
disease resistance to rust, powdery mildew and BYDV
.

Eight hexaplo
i
d populations resulting
from a cross
of (
A. sativa x A. magna
)

x A. sativa
,

have be
e
n selected and the first
cultiv
ar

resulting fro
m

this c
r
oss may be
released

soon

(
INRA
,

200
5
)
.



Such breeding program constitutes
one of
the
major
breakthroughs

in the forage breeding
program
at INRA
. Release of
high protein
oat
cultivars will not only be of great importance to
the Mor
occan feed industry,
but also
to the world
oat markets.


Despite such effort, improved certified seed is only about 10 to 20 percent of oat cultivated
area. This is mainly due to competition from the common seed trade, which seems to be
more profitable.


Leguminous

forage species

Leguminous species involved
in the
breeding program included Lucerne (
Medicago sativa

L.),
Berseem (
Trifolium alexandrium

L.), vetch (
Vicia spp
), peas
(
Pisum

sativum

L), Medics
(
Medicago spp
.), lupins (
Lupinus spp
), Trifolium spec
ies (
Trifolium subterraneum

L. and
T.
resupinatum
L.). Of these species Lucerne, vetch and Medicago and lupin, received more

Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB)

19

attention in the breeding program.

We summarize hereafter the main feature of the breeding
program of these species.


Table

3
:

S
um
mary of breeding work of the main forage leguminous species


Species

Relative importance


Criteria of selection

and type of breeding

Achievements

Lucerne

85

000 ha (22
%

forage area)


Selection criteria
:



Dry

matter yield



Short winter

dormancy period



Nematode resistance



Pests tolerance:
hypera variabilis

and
Colaspidema atrum



Diseases
resistance
:
Pseudopeziza
medicaginis
,
Stemphylium botryosum

and
tolerance to
Spodoptera littoralis.



Tolerance to salinity
for Oasis areas and
some irrigated area



Type

of breeding work:

Population selection at INRA and development
of

synthetic populations with collaboration
IAVHII




Release of 3
cultivars

(African, Moapa and
Sonora)

of USA

origin

during the colonial
period
still
cultivated:



Collection and
evaluation of

local
population from oasis
and high elevation areas


Vetch

50

000 ha



Selection criteria:



Seed and biomass yields



Earliness



Non chattering



Upright stem