In an exclusive interview with Mother Channel, at COP 22 conference, Professor James R. Burleigh, USA soil scientist from Sante Fe, Mexico, speaks on his current training program at ENA – Ecole Nationale D’Agriculture de Meknès, Morocco, with Prof. Mohammed Boulif (Prof. of Agriculture, Morocco) covering mainly agricultural research methodologies, i.e. setting up field experiments and analyzing data using standard experimental designs, then knowing how to interpret the results.
One of the main concerns here in Morocco is the performance of cereal crops, and the like, as well as future job opportunities for students at ENA. We are endeavoring to give them tools they can utilize in order to have an impact and influence on the wellbeing of the country, in the future. In response to your question as to what could undermine the health of crop yields, things like soils, global warming, attendant disease, insect pests that can wreak havoc on the crops, including drought. Drought specifically, at this time, would probably be the biggest issue that faces agriculturists, farmers, etc here, that can exacerbate some diseases, it renders some meaningless.
In terms of action to mitigate some of these issues, agriculture is an important industry in this country, if not the most, and if those involved in the industry have the intellectual skills to conduct experiments that can lead them to make responsible, solid scientific choices in varieties and cultural practices, then they will have the tools in order to help this country move forward.
With regards issues around Climate Change, those who have denied its occurrence for some decades, no longer can do so with any credibility whatsoever, and that affects not only the agriculture but every other aspect of life that I can think of. The questions that arise as to what can be done to stop the increase in temperature, or have we gone past the tipping point where even the best efforts of humankind at this point cannot alleviate those damages which have already occurred, so I would say the verdict is at this point largely unknown. I don’t believe the general populace understand the science behind what has led to an understanding of Climate Change, however, its pretty difficult to deny the data when one sees it presented in graphic form and some people do not have access to that information, so therefore, are not as acutely aware as others are, and certainly there is room for giving more attention through media and other means to enlighten people of the world, as to what is taking place on our planet.
In terms of our children’s future, I would surely like to think so, because the awareness of many people in the country, as evidenced by the Marrakech conference, is an indication of a certain level of enlightenment that is taking place, and so I would see that added attention is going to be given to those issues which are enumerated here and elsewhere around the world with larger budgets from individual countries, which will be devoted to those causes which can be used to ameliorate the impact of global warming.