It was with great excitement that I hit the road to Sidi Ifni accompanied by Abdeljalil, HAF Field Manager, and Mustapha, HAF Driver to meet the Dar Si Hmad Association (DSH), our partner in the "Afous Ghissiki" project.
The Dar Si Hmad Association (DSH), created in April 2010, aims to promote local culture and develop sustainable initiatives through education and scientific ingenuity with communities in southwest Morocco. The association has a vision for enabling sustainable livelihoods and creating opportunities for low-resource communities to learn and prosper.
The Afous Ghissiki Project was launched in April 2020 and funded by the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) in partnership with the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) and the Daiat Nzaha Cooperative. The project aims to improve and upgrade traditional farming in two oases, Ougoug and Tighmert, in the Guelmim province, and one pedagogical farm in permaculture in the Sidi Ifni province. The project accomplishes this by training beneficiaries in techniques and radical water management for sustainable and ecologically based future product marketing.
Our visit started by meeting Dr. Jamila, Dar Si Hmad’s Executive Director, at the DSH office in Sidi Ifni.
During our journey, we visited the Tighmert Oasis in Asrir commune, Guelmim province, where we met the people served by the project. Fourteen farmers have benefited from five workshops about organic agriculture, water management, climate knowledge, soil composition, and farming techniques like grafting and pruning of trees. Besides agriculture, Tighmert Oasis is a touristic spot, so the inhabitants continue to suffer from the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, this oasis is threatened by water shortage due to the Fask Dam construction and the intensification of banana cultivation. Moreover, in August 2020, a fire of unknown origin broke out in the oasis and destroyed local crop.
We carried on our visit and went to the Ougoug Oasis in Imi N’Fast commune, Sidi Ifni province, to meet the people there who benefited from the project. Here, 24 farmers had participated in the same workshop series as in Tighmert.
In order to apply techniques learned during the workshops and help farmers diversify their production, 1,190 trees of different types (Argan, olive, fig, pomegranate, carob, and walnut), which had been raised in HAF nurseries and funded by ECOSIA, were distributed to almost 40 farmers in the two oases by Dar Si Hmad. Our visit to Sidi Ifni was an opportunity to monitor these trees, which are now growing successfully thanks to the workshops that DSH conducted with them.
In addition to the two oases, HAF has distributed another more than 6,000 trees to farmers in the Guelmim Oued-Noun region. Monitoring has shown that these trees are also growing in good condition.
After completing our visits in the two oases, we visited the pedagogical farm of Agdal Brahim, where new farming practices have yielded positive results. This farm was long abandoned and is now thriving.
The Afous Ghissiki project results demonstrate a significant impact, as it has promoted organic agriculture, ensured food autonomy and income generation, and encouraged family consumption of their own crop.
One of the things that I noticed during our eight-day journey in Guelmim and Sidi Ifni was that there are more and more initiatives by young people who are creating associations in order to improve the living conditions of the rural population in the Guelmim Oued-Noun region.
A special thanks to Dr. Bargach, who welcomed us very warmly, as well as to Mr. Ouafegha who facilitated our visit to the two oases. We are grateful to the whole Afous Ghissiki project team whose efforts have been incredible.