Food security journalist visit to ICARDA in Morocco
“We maintain this for the people of the world”
For over 25 years, the Crawford Fund has been arranging visits by Australian journalists to experience and report on agriculture for development projects as part of its efforts to spread good news stories about the impact and mutual benefit of agriculture for development.
In 2019, the Crawford Fund welcomed the chance to add Morocco to the list of around 20 countries visited, with the financial support of the DFAT Council on Australia Arab Relations (CAAR).
A trip was arranged for Gregor Heard, national grains industry reporter for Australian Community Media Agricultural Publishing, which produces Australia’s most widely read rural papers. The visit focused on work by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), who assisted with field visits and interviews around projects supported by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).
“The program provided Gregor with an opportunity to meet researchers, breeders and farmers and have them explain a diverse set of projects having real impact and of interest to Australia,” said Cathy Reade, Director of Outreach at the Crawford Fund, who organises the Fund’s visits and accompanied Gregor on the trip.
A visit to the ICARDA genebank was particularly special as it houses material from the first ever withdrawal from the Svalbard ‘doomsday’ Global Seed Vault in Norway, necessary after war threatened its main genebank in Aleppo, Syria.
“We maintain this for the people of the world,” explained Dr Ahmed Amri, head of ICARDA’s genebank in his interview with Gregor. Dr Amri also reported the good news that their genebank in Syria is the only building at the old headquarters that has not been looted during the unrest.
This trip to ICARDA was welcomed by the Australian Ambassador to Morocco, Berenice Owen-Jones who visited ICARDA and later met with the Gregor with Australian embassy and Austrade staff to explain the latest developments and issues in the Australian-Morocco relationship.
In addition to the significant social media effort mounted by the Crawford Fund around the visit, Gregor has filed the following national reports in the Australian Community Media agricultural weekly papers in each State and on online portals:
- Rebuilding genetic diversity in Morocco
- Morocco goes with the grain
- Wheat serious business in Morocco
- Making the most of every drop
- Helping to find a genetic needle in a haystack
- Looking to exploit our similarities to develop trade with Morocco
- Moroccan trip a valuable opportunity for Australian wheat breeders
- Moroccan farm manager keeps the place ticking over
- Breeding better durum in Morocco
- Young scientists learn the ropes
- Big benefits in conservation ag in North Africa
- Australia takes pre-emptive strike against pests