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NC State and University Mohammed VI Polytechnic announce MOU to advance phosphorus sustainability

NC State faculty visiting UM6P in 2022. Group pose in a long line facing the camera while standing in a brick courtyard with brick buildings in the background.
NC State faculty visiting UM6P in 2022. Photo credit: UM6P.

NC State University (Raleigh, NC) and the University Mohammed VI Polytechnic (UM6P; Ben Guerir, Morocco) are pleased to announce that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to pursue collaborative research projects and expand educational and training opportunities in phosphorus (P) sustainability.  

The MOU formalizes existing ties between the two universities to pursue efforts related to phosphorus sustainability in agriculture and food security both for Africa and globally. The effort was spearheaded by Dr. Jacob Jones, Kobe Steel Distinguished Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Director of the Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability (STEPS) Center, and Dr. Hudson de Carvalho, Associate Professor and Chair of Soil Science at UM6P. 

Dr. Jones expressed his excitement for the possibilities the MOU brings: “The formalized partnership provides a mechanism to catalyze research collaborations as well as educational and training visits between NC State and UM6P on topics of mutual interest, such as agriculture, food and agribusiness, environment and sustainability, and climate change adaptation and mitigation. These areas of mutual interest are related to many initiatives and activities at NC State, e.g., the Plant Sciences Initiative and the Integrative Sciences Initiative as well as several Centers and Institutes.”

Dr. de Carvalho explained the importance of this partnership for advancing research: “Formalizing allows both institutions to multiply their capabilities. UM6P is a continental leading institution on P science, and NC State has long been an important home to phosphorus science research. Our partnership can contribute to food security through a range of actions, such as the development of more efficient fertilizers.” 

The MOU will allow NC State and UM6P to begin collaborative research and training projects and is anticipated to result in new publications and educational experiences. The relationship was catalyzed by the announcement that NC State was awarded the NSF-funded STEPS Center in Fall 2021. STEPS led reciprocal visits of faculty between the two universities in 2022.  

Phosphorus (P) is essential to life; it is a key nutrient in nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium fertilizers. Its irreplaceable role in plant growth means that P sustainability is essential to food security. In Africa, most soils are P deficient, and a central challenge is how to increase food production while using P sustainably during the significant population growth anticipated on the continent in the coming decades. This MOU will help advance the knowledge of the unique challenges, opportunities, and approaches associated with P use and sustainability in the African continent, which are different yet complementary to those in the U.S.

Contact information: 

Dr. Jacob Jones: 

Dr. Meagan Kittle Autry: 

This post was originally published in STEPS.