James Riordan, Andrew
Cardon and professor Rex Cates gathered over 100 traditional Berber
medicinal plants to analyze in Provo for anti-cancer and antibiotic
After five years in
Morocco, helping rural poor to be self-sustaining, BYU is ready to let
the program stand on its own.
In 1999 the College of
Biology and Agriculture, through the auspices of the Benson Institute,
initiated a partnership in the remote Middle Atlas Mountains of North
Africa with the Hassan II Institute of Agricultural and Veterinary
Sciences [IAV] of Morocco. Since then a dozen members of BYU faculty and
twenty from IAV, with 60 Moroccan graduate students and a scattering
of BYU undergraduates, have made some noteworthy accomplishments.
"This is a noble
project," said Dr. Mohamed Oussible, Moroccan director of the project.
"It has redirected our efforts to help our own rural poor."
Accomplishments of the
project to date include:
1. Introducing enriched
flour to rural family diets. This has improved anemia levels four-fold
and is leading to a national flour-enrichment initiative.
Mohammed Bouslikhane (BYU cap) identified intestinal parasites and shows
Berber shepherds how to treat their sheep. "I love this project, and
what we are doing," he said.
2. Demonstrating that
the crop quinoa from the Andes Mountains is well adapted to the Middle
Atlas – there's a cash market for everything the farmers grow .
A school girl lifts a sign saying "Prevention is Better Than Treatment" for cyst-forming parasites, documented by the Project, that maim and sometimes kill rural villagers.
3. Identifying diseases
lethal to native Berber chickens, preparing a vaccine for the
chickens, and training women to administer it.
4. Developing a rural
chicken hatchery prototype and an initiative to preserve Morocco's
native poultry diversity.
5. Demonstrating crop
improvement with donated fertilizer, seed, and pesticides. Farmers are
now purchasing these inputs.
With so many
accomplishments and the framework in place, local industries, doctors,
and government officials have started follow-up programs to keep the
project going even after BYU leaves.
"This project has
caught fire," said Kent Crookston, dean of the College of Biology and
Agriculture. "I have worked across Africa on many projects, but have
never experienced such promise of sustainability after external funding
stops. The Benson Institute has hit a home run in Morocco."