On behalf of the High Atlas Foundation, Ramadan Kareem!
Currently, the High Atlas Foundation is obtaining organic certification for Moroccan agricultural products. Agricultural products marketed through a new social enterprise, High Atlas Agricutlure and Artisanal (HA3), will generate increased income for marginalized populations in Morocco and create a multiplied return. These organic, fair-trade, environmentally sustainable, and socially responsible products will empower rural Moroccans while simultaneously improving their standard of living through reinvestment.
Olive trees are integral to Morocco’s environment, agriculture, and culture. One cannot imagine Moroccan cuisine without olives and olive oil! In addition, olive trees are integral to the HA3 process, as organic certification of olives greatly improves their market value, increasing the income of farmers in Morocco. One of the concerns voiced to HAF over the years is how to break the cycle of subsistence agriculture. Here at HAF, we believe that by obtaining organic certification, income generated will be increased, and this added revenue can be reinvested in other initiatives, such as increased access to clean drinking water and education, acting as a vehicle for local empowerment.
Women’s empowerment, a crucial point of HAF’s participatory development model, is especially impacted in this project. The semi-arid commune of Ait Wafqa, near Tafraoute in southern Morocco, is made up of eighty-percent women. While the men leave for work in urban areas, women manage the family farms, which are impacted by land degradation and poverty. This project will plant and irrigate olive tres, combatting desertification, poverty, and improving the education and empowerment of its local citizens.
Meetings, mostly informational, have already taken place with community members and women. For irrigation, a geomembrane basin, which is one-third of the cost of a concrete basin, collects rainwater and creates enough pressure without requiring energy, has been constructed. Trainings and participatory workshops are planned, and olive tree cuttings have been identified. This project is on its way, and with continued support we can help improve the economic and environmental situation of these Moroccans.
To hear more about organic certification through HA3 and this new exciting chapter in HAF, view a message from HAF’s president, Yossef Ben-Meir here. Organic certification benefits not only the local communities, but reinvests in Morocco’s agriculture, environment, and education.
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