Throughout Morocco HAF is committed to creating green economic growth as means to lift rural farmers out of poverty and increase household revenues. In turn, improved incomes can be reinvested into communities to support sustainable development. Through employing a community participatory approach, HAF partners with communities to identify their greatest needs. This approach facilitates the implementation of projects as it sets up communities as central agents in their own development.
HAF’s projects related to irrigation systems for fruit tree or medicinal plant nurseries, such as in Azilal or Taroudant, fits into this method of sustainable development as it exposes farmers to organic agricultural methods and helps to diversify their sources of income. While these communities identified irrigation as a priority, HAF provided the infrastructure needed to meet this need. In the past five months HAF has made exciting headway in these two provinces:
The irrigation systems have provided the necessary resource, water, to both maintain community nurseries, and support the development of communities. Connected to this project, the installation of potable water basins supplied clean water to communities. Thanks to your generous support HAF has been able to expand the scope of its irrigation system projects and make a real difference in Morocco’s agricultural communities.
The High Atlas Foundation has partnered with communities in the Tifnoute Valley and in the Ouirgane Commune to design community development projects based upon the needs identified by community members. HAF relies upon a participatory development approach to human development, in which trainers empower the community to identify, develop and management projects to increase household incomes.
In time for World Water Day on March 22nd, the communities of the Tifnoute Valley and in the Ouirgane Commune have designed new land and water management systems, which will provide clean drinking water, create land terraces to expand viable land for planting, and spread knowledge about climate change challenges and share best practices for environmental conservation. These trainings will be underscored with capacity building and other tools that allow communities to respond to environmental changes.
These projects make way for the planting of new tree nurseries to increase household incomes. Your support helps HAF to deliver training and increase capacities of Morocco’s most remote villages. Thank you for delivering skills and trainings to the families of the Tifnoute Valley and in the Ouirgane Commune.
On 16th January 2014 a milestone event in the calendar of the High Atlas Foundation is scheduled to take place in various locations throughout Morocco, with the celebration of its successfully completed 'One Million Tree Campaign'. Over ten years, we estimate to have helped 50,000 people make the step out of poverty. The project is poised to continue indefinitely, at an accelerated pace, with 500,000 young trees expected to be planted in 2014 alone.
The planting of HAF's One Millionth Fruit Tree will occur at noon on 16th January 2014 in eight provinces simultaneously where HAF currently has projects: Al Haouz, Azilal, Boujdour, Essaouira, Ifrane, Rhamna, Taroudant, and Taza.
As a part of Sami’s project, this event will be celebrated with schoolchildren, and the millionth tree will be planted in school yards as symbol of commitment for this generation and the next to take care of our earth and find sustainable methods for our lives. We do this in memory of Sami El Kouhen who passed away from cancer at three years old.
As we approach this historic occasion, we are reminded of how far we’ve come since the inception of the HAF agriculture project in 2003. Each year this project has accelerated rapidly towards the One Million Tree goal, with 235,000 trees planted in 2013, capping four consecutive record-breaking years.
Land is made available by a variety of interested parties including the Moroccan High Commission for Water, Forests and Desertification Control, cooperatives, municipalities, women’s associations and the Jewish community of Marrakesh. We plant recognizing the High Atlas Foundation’s Peace Corps roots, with the Ouaouizerth of Azilal community where the late Ambassador Christopher Stevens served as a Volunteer, in southern Morocco remembering former Volunteer Kate Jeans-Gail and her mother Victoria, and in the north inspired by former Volunteer Tom Tolen – allah yarHamu, God rest their souls. We plant, with faith in the Moroccan people and in humanities future, and we will not stop.
Fruit seeds and saplings including carob, olive, pomegranate, almond and walnut are planted in nurseries managed entirely on organic lines. At the end of each project mature trees are distributed at the symbolic cost of 1 Moroccan Dirham (a fraction of their true market value) to the surrounding population, starting with the most marginalised. In this way the local and national economy is being developed through a variety of business initiatives, overseen initially by HAF. Crucially, the land management strategies put into place prevent erosion and desertification.
Ten years ago, we could only dream that the Campaign would blossom into a powerful tool for breaking the cycle of poverty, strengthening the communities’ connection to local environmentalism to achieve socio-economic empowerment. Through HAF’s participatory approach, tree nurseries have lead to other human development projects: fruit tree plantations, women’s coops, local irrigation projects, youth empowerment and educational projects and much more. Each project improves confidence, income and socio-economic development in rural and often marginalized communities.
Initiatives inspired from the 1 Million Tree Campaign
Organic Certification: The HAF-initiated organic agriculture project spans the entire development process – from nurseries to market. HAF trains rural famers in organic agriculture techniques and empowers them with the skills to expand these projects. By securing organic certification, farmers are able to generate higher revenue for their produce.
High Atlas Agriculture and Artisanal (HA3): The HAF is in process of establishing an enterprise to manage the agriculture initiative. With 1 million trees planted, and millions more to come, this enterprise will unite rural farmers, allowing them to market their produce in the domestic and international market. HAF was recognized as 2013 SEED Award winners for this achievement in innovation, entrepreneurship and promising efforts to promote economic growth, social development and environmental protection in Morocco.
HA3 will distribute a portion of the net profit generated to family farmers for additional income. The remaining income will be directly reinvested in the community, by funding new human developed projects in education, health, and women’s and youth empowerment, initiatives identified and implemented by community members.
Zero Waste Commitment: The HAF has made a Zero Waste Commitment to account for the waste produced by these 1 million trees. Fruit trees produce agricultural waste, be it nut shells and hulls, or fallen leaves, the HAF has a plan to repurpose this waste.
In order to break subsistence agriculture, Morocco needs to plant billions of trees and plants (according to its own projections). HAF is proud to have contributed 1 million trees to this cause, and will continue to expand our agriculture project until we reach that next million. As profits from the sale of organic produce are reinvested in human development projects, HAF is confident that this project will continue to accelerate each year. It took us 10 years to plant our first million trees, help us plant the next million in 2 years! Community partners are ready, are you?
Communities of the High Atlas Foundation rank irrigation initiatives among their top development priorities. Thanks to your support and OES partnership, we are now executing drip irrigation systems in 4 tree nurseries!
Why is irrigation a priority?
Due to population growth and climate change, the already vulnerable rural areas of Morocco are facing increasing challenges to economic survival. We can combat these challenges by providing a reliable water source to support the growth of fruit tree agriculture, which is more profitable than the traditional staple crops, corn and barley.
What is drip irrigation?
The drip irrigation system is an innovative irrigation method that ensures water access while simultaneously encouraging water conservation. Drip irrigation runs hoses with drip nozzles through the nurseries and fields, delivering water directly to the plants’ root zones. A 2012 Al-Akhwayn University study on water management and conservation in rural Morocco found this system to be the most effective, because the direct water delivery minimizes evaporation and run-off.
The entire community benefits from the influx of income provided by fruit tree agriculture. Women in particular are large stakeholders in this irrigation project. 3 of the 4 benefitting tree nurseries are women’s nurseries (1 in Ouaouizerth and 2 in Toubkal). Having been built on land donated in the name of women’s groups, the sale of the trees and plants in the nursery benefit women directly.
Help us expand our drip irrigation project!
We are so grateful for all of our Global Giving donors who help jumpstart these sustainable projects. Drip irrigation supplies for one nursery (including tubing, pumps, etc.) costs roughly $1,500. With the collaborative effort of the local communities, supporting partners such as OES, and your contributions, we can provide another community with this innovative irrigation system!
In rural Morocco, the combination of population growth and the low market-value of traditional staple crops (corn and barley), from which most rural households derive their income, has made subsistence agriculture unsustainable.
Thanks to the generous support of Global Giving donors, HAF has been able to extend its work to 8 Provinces of Morocco. For example, since July of 2012, the High Atlas Foundation has partnered with the Trustees of the Sacred Site of Rabbi Raphael Ha Cohen, Region of Akraich, Province of Al Haouz and the Moroccan Jewish Community to improve the lives of over 10,000 people in twelve rural villages in Akraich region by planting and transferring skills to local community members to maintain 80,000 fruit trees.
The initial phases of the project involved building agricultural terraces, including delivering earth and natural fertilizer to the nursery, installing an irrigation system, and developing competencies among community members to maintain the nursery site and irrigation system, as well as general project management. Members of the participating village communities maintain the nursery while developing technical skills necessary to raise and cultivate healthy fruit trees. Once the seeds and saplings mature into young trees after two years, they will be distributed to each household at no cost and planted in their private orchards. After four to six years from when they are transplanted to household orchards, the trees begin to bear fruit, which can then be sold in domestic fruit markets.
In April 2013, HAF was pleased to report that we had planted with our partners 40,000 fruit saplings in a nursery in the region. Over four to six years, these trees will provide fruits that can be sold at market prices. The second milestone we celebrated was the completion of the well that will provide clean water to the nursery, and to the surrounding villages.
Thanks to the generous support of the friends of HAF, Global Giving donors and the Jewish Community of Marrakech, this project will have positive implications for development for years to come.
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President of the High Atlas Foundation
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