Moroccan University to Offer Olive Oil Master’s Degree

The two-year degree program is meant to help professionalize the increasingly-important table olive and olive oil sectors in the North African country.
Meknès, the heart of olive growing in Morocco
By Daniel Dawson
Jan. 3, 2023 17:37 UTC

Students in Morocco can enroll in an olive oil-spe­cific Master’s degree for the first time.

The National School for Agriculture in Meknès, one of the coun­try’s most pro­duc­tive olive-grow­ing regions, will accept stu­dents into the vir­gin olive oil qual­ity and safety Master’s degree (MarVOOlea) at the begin­ning of the 2023/24 aca­d­e­mic year.

Bearing in mind the great devel­op­ment man­i­fested by the Moroccan olive oil sec­tor since 2010, there is a real need to accom­pany this devel­op­ment through the train­ing of a new gen­er­a­tion of (olive oil pro­fes­sion­als).- Bajoub Adil, coor­di­na­tor, MarVOOlea

This mas­ter is the main result of the FosaMed project Enhancing Food Safety in the Mediterranean,’ whose main objec­tive is the estab­lish­ment of a mas­ter on food safety in Morocco,” Bajoub Adil, an agro­nomic engi­neer and coor­di­na­tor of the degree pro­gram, told Olive Oil Times.

The National School of Agriculture, with strong expe­ri­ence in the field of olive grow­ing, has cho­sen to spe­cial­ize the mas­ter in olive prod­ucts safety,” he added. This choice is guided by a study that our team has con­ducted [with many indus­try stake­hold­ers] on the assess­ment of train­ing needs in this area.”

See Also:Olive Center Expands Olive Oil Education to Adolescents and Children

The goal of the Master’s degree pro­gram is to pro­fes­sion­al­ize the Moroccan olive grow­ing and oil pro­duc­tion sec­tors. The project will also con­tribute to Morocco’s Green Generation 2030 strat­egy, which is meant to mod­ern­ize the agri-food sec­tor sus­tain­ably.

The Master’s teach­ing units have been estab­lished con­sid­er­ing the national olive grow­ing and olive oil-pro­duc­ing skills needs, includ­ing sci­en­tific research and the train­ing of qual­i­fied pro­fes­sion­als capa­ble of strength­en­ing the agri-food sec­tor,” Adil said.

The team plan­ning MarVOOlea con­sulted local mill man­agers, olive farm­ers, uni­ver­sity stu­dents and other stake­hold­ers. Professionals in the sec­tor will be invited to give guest lec­tures, and some of the company’s most promi­nent pro­duc­ers will also offer semes­ter-long intern­ships to stu­dents.

According to Adil, the two-year degree cov­ers the most up-to-date skills and knowl­edge of:

  • Olive grow­ing tech­niques and grove man­age­ment;
  • The rela­tion­ship between olives and cli­mate change;
  • Olive har­vest­ing and mech­a­niza­tion;
  • Olive oil tech­nol­ogy;
  • Table olive pro­duc­tion;
  • Quality and safety ana­lyt­ics;
  • Biorefinery of olive by-prod­ucts;
  • Circular econ­omy paths in the olive sec­tor.

The teach­ing of fun­da­men­tal con­cepts is accom­pa­nied by the learn­ing of method­olog­i­cal tools, orchards, olive oil mills and lab­o­ra­tory train­ing, the pre­sen­ta­tion of cur­rent research issues and appli­ca­tions in the cho­sen spe­cial­ties,” Adil said.

See Also:Olive Oil Sommelier Certificate Program London

According to International Olive Council data, Morocco is expected to pro­duce 156,000 tons in the 2022/23 crop year, slightly below the rolling five-year aver­age of 172,200 tons.

Despite this year’s pro­duc­tion decline, olive oil yields in Morocco have steadily risen over the past three decades. The olive oil sec­tor is now one of the largest agri-food indus­tries in Morocco, con­tribut­ing 5 per­cent of the country’s agri­cul­tural GDP and directly employ­ing more than 100,000 peo­ple.

As a result of the sector’s ris­ing eco­nomic impor­tance to rural areas and the country’s trade bal­ance, Adil believes the master’s degree pro­gram is nec­es­sary to improve the olive oil and table olive sec­tors in terms of qual­ity and prof­itabil­ity.

Bearing in mind the great devel­op­ment man­i­fested by the Moroccan olive oil sec­tor since 2010 (exten­sion of the olive grow­ing area, estab­lish­ment of olive oil pro­duc­tion coop­er­a­tives and new and mod­ern olive mills), there is a real need to accom­pany this devel­op­ment through the train­ing of a new gen­er­a­tion of man­agers of olive mills and farms, man­agers oper­at­ing in the con­trol bod­ies of qual­ity and safety of Moroccan olive oil,” Adil said.

He added that new free trade agree­ments signed with the United States and European Union had strict qual­ity require­ments.

Therefore, the Master’s degree pro­gram has a role to play in this area through the train­ing of highly qual­i­fied future olive oil pro­fes­sion­als,” Adil said.


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