The planting season is in the winter in the High Atlas Mountains. But don't let this make you believe that we aren't as busy in the off season as we are in the planting season. In fact, we might be even busier. This is because we are turning the trees planted into a great source of income for farmers who have been unable to compete with international market prices, leaving them in poverty.
Ironically, due to the local stakeholder’s inability to invest in pesticides, 70% of the land surveyed for this project is uncontaminated and ready for organic production. HAF and its partners have planted nearly 200,000 walnut and almond trees in the region. HAF has developed a model to support over 3,500 households in the Tadmamt and Al Haouz Provinces in the High Atlas Mountains to harvest, produce, and sell organic walnut and almonds for organic export. Here is how it works: HAF assists rural communities through the entire agricultural development cycle – from tree nurseries, irrigation, training, organic certification, and marketing – combining to increase household incomes on average of 400%, with resounding local and national development impact both economically and in terms of infrastructure, as entrepreneurship and value-add production capacity grows as the project comes to scale.
HAF is working with a team of agricultural experts that are going household to household in the rural mountains of the Northern Atlas to assess the trees and soil of each family. After the assessment and an audit, crops will be certified for organic sales in the US and Europe. Only then does the realy work begin, with collection, quality control, transport, packaging, and sales to international buyers.
This project has enormous implications for economic and community improvement, as farmers will work together in federation to gain access to greater market prices.
Initial investment costs are high, but the return is so big, that we at HAF ask our partners to support in any way that they can to make the first harvest (which starts in September) profitable and sustainable.
Thank you so much for helping us get this far. HAF is committed to the full project-cycle, and we hope you are too.
Thanks to you, as well as generous funding from the Alliance for Global Giving, we were able to surpass our goal of 50,000 trees by planting 100,000 walnut trees and 14,000 almond trees. The caviat -- we must certify these trees to be organic, so that their produce can be sold at high profit for export.
We have begun this process by sending a team of two agricultural experts and a participatory trainer to the Tifnoute to map the land on which the trees are being planted and ensure that they are viable for organic certification. This is a long and meticulous process that will take about six months, especially since we are covering over 50 acres of mountainous land! We are so pleased to share this development, and to let you know that your support is going to something bigger than just planting trees - it is going to ensure sustainable incomes for years to come in the Tifnoute, which will be a model for other planting projects throughout Morocco.
We are pleased to report the great success we've had in planting high quality and productive trees in Tadmamt, thanks to you! A total of 30,000 Walnut trees have been successfully grafted and planted, with an additional 20,000 cherry trees over the past year.
The walnut trees came from healthy transplants of two varieties of Bulgaria Walnut (Dryanovo and Chyanovo, that inhabit the lands of Tadmamt). The rootstock from the nut trees adapted to the local environmental conditions rapidly, producing high quality nuts and early production.
This project is based on the fundamental principles of the `National Development Initiative Humans (NHRI) and of the High Atlas Foundation. Planting trees doesn't just mean crop, shade and commodity. It means empowering local stakeholders to care for their land, take control of their livelihood and plan for a better future. Dividing the land terraces, building irrigation systems, nurserys and planting was conducted in partnership and consultation with all concerned citizens. They have taken part in true sustainable development of their land.
While we've reached our target goal, we plan to continue to rehabilitate and cultivation five to seven terraces, construct the basin of accumulation of water and to install drip irrigation system to preserve water supply.
There is always more to be done in this incredibly impoverished (both financially and resource-wise) land. With your support, an additional 50,000 walnut trees will be planted in a new extension (see below) giving life to the region in so many ways.
At this time of year, HAF prepares projects for the upcoming planting season, which will begin when the rainy weather arrives.
While planting 458,492 trees in 9 years, HAF has been looking into ways to add value to the yield.
Currently, a team has been busy working out the details of a value-added project for the walnuts and almonds being harvested at several HAF project sites, and HAF has just been awarded one of four Alliance for Global Good’s Innovation fund Prizes, which will enable HAF to obtain organic certification. (Details below)
Now, your contributions will go further than just planting trees. The yield from those trees will create jobs and additional income for community members.
PLEASE CONSIDER making a RECURRING DONATION to this increasingly beneficial project.
HAF Seeking Organic Certification:
As part of a new initiative, HAF has undertaken obtaining organic certification for the walnut and almond crops from High Atlas villages.
In September, HAF led nut specialists and entrepreneurs, a photographer and a technician from Morocco's Ministry of Agriculture on a week-long tour to study the current crops and systems and determine what steps will be necessary in order to obtain certification for these farmers. The expedition is described in detail in this HAF blog: http://www.highatlasfoundation.org/blogs/308-Hafs-harvest-and-organic-certification
HAF Wins an Alliance for Global Good's Innovation Fund prize:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Innovation Fund Winners Announced
Four Nonprofits Selected For Project Funding
Winners use best-in-class combination of nonprofit mission and business models for sustainable social good.
Greensboro, NC – A path to prosperity for the poorest of Morocco's rural farmers through organic certification. … These are the proposals that were selected from nearly 50 applicants to be the  inaugural grantees of the Alliance for Global Good's Innovation Fund. ...
High Atlas Foundation | | Morocco
To learn more about this prize, read HAF's blog post: http://www.highatlasfoundation.org/blogs/312-haf-innovation-fund-winner-of-the-alliance-for-global-good
Attached please see photos taken during a recent tour of these projects earlier in September.
On June 27, 2012, Aliza and I had the pleasure of visiting two of the several High Atlas Foundation (HAF) sites. HAF is one of GlobalGiving's most active partners in Morocco with over 26 projects, 5 of which are currently listed on the GlobalGiving site. HAF has several projects in rural Berber and Arab villages in the southern part of the country. We visited their cherry and walnut tree planting project with Project Manager Abderrahim, who was kind enough to show us around, make introductions to local leaders and act as translator.
The cherry and walnut tree nursery is located in the rural village of Tadmamt. The project, to plant 50,000 walnut and cherry trees, is one of many tree nurseries HAF has started in the last two years. The trees stay in the nursery for one to two years. After this initial growing period, they are given to local families, who can sell the produce at local markets and use the seeds to plant more trees. The walnuts are a local variety, while the cherries are sometimes grafted onto local varieties.
The trees are cared for by a rotation of local volunteers from the surrounding Berber villages. One of the locals, Omar (pictured below), showed us the plants in different stages of development and the irrigation systems they created to make sure the trees get enough water in the arid climate. The nursery is located in a forest, so we also met with a government official from the forestry department to talk about the importance of the trees (they help combat soil erosion and flooding in the mountains), as well as some of the people who have received the trees.
Aliza and I learned a great deal from our morning with HAF- it was wonderful to see firsthand what an active impact the organization is having on the local communities!
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New York City and Marrakech,
NY (US) & AlHaouz (Maroc)