RABAT, Morocco — The University of Minnesota produced pioneering agronomist Norman Borlaug, Medtronic founder Earl Bakken, journalist David Carr, astronaut Deke Slayton – and Mohammed Sadiki, secretary general of Morocco’s Ministry of Agriculture and Maritime Fishing.
Sadiki is one of hundreds of students trained under a 20-year partnership between university agronomists and Morocco in the 1970s through 1990s. Now plans are in the works to revive the program and plant a new generation of U of M-trained farming experts in this North African country.
Sadiki credits the University of Minnesota for much of his success as a scientist, professor and now second-in-command at the ministry. Many other high-profile Moroccan agronomists can claim the same. Nearly all of the professors at the Hassan II Agronomy and Veterinary Institute (IAV) – Morocco’s agricultural university – were educated through the partnership with the U of M, which grew out of early cooperation with a Belgian agronomist working at IAV who spent a sabbatical studying soil science in Minnesota. The program brought young, bright Moroccans to the United States to study agriculture and then return to their home country to apply their knowledge.
“My experience in Minnesota, it’s every day in my memory, every day present,” Sadiki says from his spacious office in Rabat’s administrative district.