To help improve nutrition and quality of life in rural Morocco, LDS Charities recently partnered with scientists and farmers in Morocco on two Benson Food Initiative projects: beldi chicken and quinoa production.
In partnership with the Hassan II Institute of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences (IAV Hassan II) in Rabat, Morocco, LDS Charities provided financial support and expertise in the current project as well as in an earlier phase of the project to identify and alleviate a number of human health and nutritional issues. For these projects, IAV Hassan II scientists identified animal and poultry diseases, developed vaccines for those diseases, and trained local women to vaccinate their poultry. Along with LDS Charities, they also provided equipment to improve chicken and egg production and laid the groundwork for introducing quinoa farming in the Agoudim Region of Morocco.
Beldi chickens are “backyard poultry” raised primarily by rural households in Morocco. They are traditionally raised as free-range chickens and valued for their flavorful meat. LDS Charities and IAV Hassan II are assisting rural farmers in managing and improving chicken and egg production. In each location, local farmer cooperatives have received technical training and equipment to improve their beldi chicken production. The equipment was installed in a cooperative hatchery building built by the farmers. Technical expertise and training is provided by a local IAV Hassan II scientist who specializes in avian diseases and poultry production.
The quinoa project is being directed by two IAV Hassan II scientists who specialize in agricultural production and quinoa processing. They are working with rural farmers to develop quinoa as an affordable source of nutrition, as well as a potential cash crop.
Quinoa, which originated in the Andes Mountains of South America, is able to grow in harsh climates and marginal soils and produces a grain rich in protein and essential amino acids. Similar growing conditions exist in the Agoudim region, and quinoa could offer both greater food security and improved nutrition for the Moroccans who live there. Currently, the participating farmer households are working with the IAV Hassan II scientists in order to grow the most resilient and productive strains of quinoa seeds.
LDS Charities and IAV Hassan II were able to use local expertise and solutions for both the beldi chicken and quinoa projects, both of which promise improved nutrition and additional sources of income for rural families in Morocco.