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Agriculture - Charting a new path the Al Moutmir way

BY: Doreen Hammond
Development of OCP, demonstrating how the Smart Blender which is a custom (Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potash) [NPK] fertiliser production unit works. The blender can produce fertilisers for specific crops and soils among others.
Development of OCP, demonstrating how the Smart Blender which is a custom (Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potash) [NPK] fertiliser production unit works. The blender can produce fertilisers for specific crops and soils among others.

Agriculture plays a crucial role in the life of an economy.

It is actually the backbone of most economies, especially in the developing world. Not only does it provide food for the people and raw materials for industries but is also an avenue for employment.

Its role as a source of livelihood and importance in international trade can therefore not be underscored.

It is a key source for much of the foreign exchange from exports and this is well documented.
Though in Ghana as in many developing countries, the pivot around which the sector revolves is the farmer, in many African countries, the farming space is dominated by small holder farmers.

Most times, programmes initiated to improve agriculture produce do not take the specific needs of farmers into consideration.

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Some farmers in a training session led by an agronomist of OCP. The session enables the sharing of ideas and good agricultural practices.

This one-size-fits-all approach has not been effective over the years and the results are there for all to see.

Also, the youth are not attracted to farming because they are not seeing many examples of successful farmers.

They will rather cross the Mediterranean Sea in search of greener pastures in Europe.

Realising that the farmer is naturally encouraged by results and committed to agricultural transformation, OCP group with headquarters in Morocco has developed and launched an outreach programme called Al Moutmir (the fruitful).

I recently had the opportunity of being invited by the group to see at firsthand how the initiative which commenced in September 2018 was operating.

At Chichaoua, near Marrakesh, was one of the demonstration platforms/project sites where there was a mini-laboratory, a section where the farmer is taught how to take soil samples for analysis, a friendly classroom where farmers had the opportunity to interact with an agronomist and share experiences with other farmers on good agricultural practices and a smart blender where, based on the results of the analysis, customized fertilisers are blended .

The whole initiative focusses on three pillars, the farmer as the agent of change, the scientific approach and the partnership approach.

He or she is taught how to take soil from his farm for laboratory analysis to determine a particular blend of fertilizer Nitrogen Phosphate and Potash (NPK)-suitable for him.

Al Moutmir therefore offers a multitude of services and solutions deployed in close proximity to farmers, including mobile soil analysis laboratories deployed in different provinces across the country.

The current campaign is estimated at 2,000 demonstration platforms.

Vice President, Local Market Farming Development of OCP, Madam Fathiha Charradi, who briefed journalists during a tour of the facility, said so far, 1000 farmers throughout Morrocco had benefitted from the initiative and some of them had recommended to their colleague farmers the benefits, thereby motivating them to participate.

The initiative is run by a team of agronomic engineers deployed across several provinces.

Each agricultural engineer is in charge of promoting a balanced nutrition for the crops following a technical itinerary of quality for the benefit of the farmers in their region.

Overall, more than 40 agronomists will be permanently deployed in 37 provinces to work with farmers and provide training, demonstrations, supervision and support.

Al Moutmir also trains rural women who will play a key role in the transformation of the agricultural sector through programmes designed for cooperatives and a capacity-building programme for young leaders to encourage youth entrepreneurship in agriculture.

Besides the human resources deployed, OCP provides farmers with important scientific and technological resources, mainly the scientific reference system which is disseminated and adapted to each stage of the technical itinerary.

The mobile laboratories, deployed to all regions, are carrying out soil analyses free of charge with almost immediate results, which Madam Charradi says are a real showcase of the latest technologies and innovations in the agricultural field.

In line with modern trends, OCP also offers a wide range of services; for instance it uses mobile applications, a call centre, sensors and connected objects to collect and analyse data.

This digitalisation is positioned in such a manner as to facilitate the transfer of scientific knowledge to the farmer and encourage sharing with the agricultural ecosystem.

Madam Charradi believes that OCP’s Al Moutmir is an initiative that reflects the group’s commitment to contribute to the transformation of the agricultural sector in Morocco and other countries.

She said the company was ready to go into partnership with Ghana to adopt the Al Moutmir initiative to improve the lot of
farmers.

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