On 10 December, the Centre of Excellence Horticulture (CEH) opened on the campus of the University Institute Agriculture et Veterinaire Hassan II (IAV) in Agadir Morocco. This university creates new silk routes, combining international knowledge and technology by educating (future) growers. These developments will reshape the future of the Moroccan horticulture industry and creates many international business opportunities.
During the opening ceremony attended by the Moroccan Minister of Agriculture, Maritime Fishing, Rural Development, Water and Forestry, Mohamed Sadiki, and the Dutch Ambassador to Morocco, Jeroen Roodenburg. The director of the IAV, Professor Farid Lekjaa, expressed his ambition to also have an impact, with the horticulture centre, on the complete MENA region and (Sub Sahara) Africa: “It is not the idea that counts. We need to disseminate the experience and adapt it to the local needs, hand in hand as partners. We need to train students, farmers and earn money to create a solid, healthy, sustainable food production system. Not just a business model, but a system with local social and environmental impact. For example, all the employees in our centre are women.”
Co-host Mariska Dreschler, Director – GreenTech Global, emphasised the importance of empowering the Moroccan growers, which means adapting to their specific production needs and focussing on the 3 C’s: crops, climate and culture. “GreenTech is very committed to embrace this opportunity and investigates the possibility to organise an event in Morocco for the North African region in the near future,” she said.
With support from the Moroccan, Dutch and Israeli government the foundation of a campus is created, that should educate the current and next generations of professionals in challenges relating to water scarcity, energy transition and natural resources. Research will be done in cooperation with leading companies and universities around the globe.
In this first phase, an 8,000 m2 glass greenhouse for research, education and training has been designed and constructed by the Dutch company HortiXS in collaboration with Moroccan partner HortiSud. The supervision and upcoming management of the Greenhouse is in the hands of HortiTech. Also renowned for the creation of the World Horti Center in Naaldwijk, the Netherlands.
Part of the Centre of Excellence Horticulture (CEH ) will be an ImpactCluster, a Dutch government funded programme, that will create access and train Moroccan farmers in the eco efficient technologies showcased within the Greenhouse, adapted to their personal situations. This will be organised by Moroccan and Dutch knowledge institutes and private companies such as APEFEL, Rijk Zwaan, Koppert, Jiffy, Growers United, Let’s Grow and Hoogendoorn.
The ImpactCluster will also create a robust link between the knowledge partners involved: IAV Hassan II, Leiden-Delft-Erasmus university alliance (LDE) and Inholland University of Applied Science. LDE and Inholland are connected by means of the Learning Community of the World Horti Center, the Dutch education and research ecosystem.