On February 12-13, HAF Director of Development, Aicha Galef, represented HAF at Agora MedSpring brokerage event in Cairo, Egypt. There she presented HAF’s innovate social enterprise, High Atlas Agriculture and Artisanal (HA3). HA3 was chosen as one of 15 idea carriers from throughout the Mediterranean region and was given the opportunity to pitch its sustainable and eco-friendly business model to a group of researchers, experts, and investors, resulting in the creation of new partnerships for the success of this agribusiness startup. With a strong focus on food, water, and energy, this event celebrated creative solutions—such as biomass briquettes—to the challenges that face Mediterranean nations including environmental protection, food security, and water conservation.
Aicha introduced HA3 to potential investors and interested parties from civil society, government, and research institutions. The brokerage event sought to provide a venue to connect all these different sectors for increase collaboration, which was accomplished through a matchmaking session open to the chosen idea carriers and the event attendees. She met with several representatives from civil society and startups working in the agricultural, environmental and energy conservation sectors.
Aicha had the opportunity to speak with young entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers from throughout the Mediterranean region. She was able to forge a strong connection with an NGO creating organic charcoal. HA3 is expected to benefit greatly from new partnerships formed at the Agora MedSpring event. Dynamic partnerships and inter-sectoral cooperation will help overcome some of the most challenging obstacles to environmental conservation and food security. The HA3 social enterprise will confront these challenges throughout rural Morocco by reinvesting profits from the sale of organic walnuts and almonds into human development projects that benefit the community, such as in education, health, and women and youth empowerment.
HAF will plant its 1 Millionth Fruit tree on January 16th, and this new innovation will allow us to repurpose the waste from those 1 million trees into a clean burning energy source. Briquettes will be used on a local level to alleviate the challenge of collecting or purchasing fuel, and they will be sold domestically and internationally. Profits from these sales will be reinvested into new community-identified human development projects.
The Environment: Rural communities often rely on trees for cooking fuel and for heating, which has led to exploitation of local forests. Providing families an affordable wood alternative will reduce deforestation. The briquettes release fewer greenhouse gases than coal or wood when burned, contributing to the overall preservation of Morocco’s ecosystem.
The Community: The chore of fetching firewood is typically delegated to young girls, hindering school attendance. According to the World Bank, reducing chores for young girls (fetching water and firewood) can increase school attendance by 16%.
For families who do not have access to firewood, purchasing fuel can be a financial burden. The briquettes offer an affordable alternative, since they are made locally and from waste materials.
Sustainability: HAF will continue to expand the scope of the fruit tree agriculture project, with 500,000 young trees to be planted in 2014. The briquette project will begin in Al Haouz and Taroudant Provinces, where HAF has on-going agriculture projects, ensuring access to agricultural waste, such as nut hulls and shells and fallen leaves. The flexibility of briquette composition (they can be produced by combining any agricultural waste, including paper, grass, sawdust, etc) allows this project to be implemented in all the provinces where the HAF works.
Implementation: With partner Green Sahara Furniture, based in Casablanca, HAF will produce a prototype for a wooden lever compression press that will turn agro-waste into small circular bricks that are dried in the sun. After this initial prototype is made, we will train local artisans to produce the press using local materials. We need funding to produce the initial lever press and to train community members in production and operation of the machines.
Long-term impact: This project creates a sustainable system to produce clean fuel, transitioning Morocco to green energy. HAF will provide local families with the training and technology to repurpose agricultural material that typically goes to waste, or new agricultural waste that is being produced by HAF’s fruit tree campaign.
Moreover, this initiative will generate income for rural families: briquettes will sold be on a local and international level by High Atlas Agriculture and Artisanal (HA3) a Cooperative that HAF is currently creating. HA3 will market and sell organic produce to domestic and international markets, and will reinvest part of those profits in the implementation of new community-identified human development
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