Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries

by High Atlas Foundation
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Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
Community Fruit Tree and Medicinal Herb Nurseries
This week, the Farmer-To-Farmer (F2F) team launched two different assignments in Beni Mellal region, aiming to enrich two local agricultural cooperatives and assist them to achieve their goals.

The first host organization (HO) "Tamghart group" aims to value and promote Moroccan plants nationally and internationally through their cosmetics products. Therefore, they seek management and expertise in sustainable cosmetics production, so they can improve the quality and quantity of the product to increase income and thus improve living conditions for their members and their families and create more jobs for community members, especially girls. Charaf Eddine Mansouri the F2F local Volunteer and Joe Anne the paired remote U.S Volunteer will work together with the HO members to adapt their previous business plan, in order to enhance it based on new data and information, as this will help the host to have a clear idea of their project, submit a strong project proposal.

And the second HO "The Union de coopératives Apicoles de Bzou" members carry a perfect knowledge of beekeeping, furthermore, they produce good quality and big quantities of honey. However, they struggle in selling their products. Now the HO requests a volunteer to help its members create a website to increase their sales. Currently, they sell to wholesalers who pay a low price. The F2F program assigned local and remote paired U.S Volunteers to assist the HO in order to develop a website, as this will increase their sales, especially online, so they can reach international buyers, as well as their income and thus improve living conditions for their members and their families.

The USAID F2F program does not only strengthen local communities but also creates sustainable project modules in North Africa.
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We often neglect the importance of trees in our daily lives, passively accepting their shade, beauty, and fruit as we walk beneath their leafy branches and sturdy trunks. Yet, to small farmers, just one fruit tree can help generate an income while also sequestering carbon and reducing society’s carbon footprint. Rather than demolishing trees to farm land, High Atlas Foundation (HAF) plants fruit trees on small farms, aiding both local farmers and the environment in the process. If just a few fruit trees can provide long-term benefits to farmers, we should be actively appreciating their importance by supporting initiatives, such as HAF’s carbon offset program with fruit trees.

Each year, small farmers across Morocco reach out directly to HAF to receive fruit tree seeds, hoping to cultivate a sustainable and profitable project. Working directly with the farmers, HAF helps with the initial planting of a fruit tree or creation of a nursery, determining if the trees can maintain good health. The healthiness of trees is of utmost importance, requiring certification from the Ministry of Agriculture, as one unhealthy tree can ruin all the trees. For the trees to truly be sustainable, HAF monitors their health over the years, making sure farmers can maintain their long-term cultivation.

As the trees grow, they sequester carbon through photosynthesis, capturing carbon dioxide from the air, which reduces the overall amount of carbon released into the atmosphere and, thus, our carbon footprint. Equally important, though, the fruit trees provide a sustainable income plan for small farmers, as the fruits from the tree can be sold and eaten as long as the tree lives. Traditionally, the subsistence types of crops of small farmers (corn and barley) yield small incomes and unsustainable practices, such as deforestation and pesticide use. With HAF’s organic fruit trees, however, small farmers can reforest and grow trees without using harmful pesticides while also earning a longer-term income. Through this process, farmers promote sustainable development at an individual and local level, as they see first-hand the ongoing benefits of fruit trees.

Not only do farmers learn and participate in sustainable development through planting trees, but they also perform an act of peace. The concept of peace involves collaboration among parties to establish tranquility and benevolence, so by working with HAF and local communities, small farmers promote peace. Moreover, planting trees creates job opportunities within local communities, specifically for youth, which advances environmental stewardship amongst younger populations and promotes sustainable development. The creation of jobs and incomes for small farmers benefits the wider community; as one farmer increases his/her income, he/she can support local businesses, sustainably advancing the community’s economy.

In the past year, HAF distributed approximately 700,000 trees across Morocco, with a goal to plant 1 million fruit trees, such as carob, Argan, almond, and cherry. Each one of these trees makes an impact at the individual, local, national, and international level, providing incomes for small farmers, which advances sustainable development. Typically, large farms tend to unfairly control economies and decimate fertile land with ecologically harmful practices, only to grow unsustainable crops that provide temporary incomes. In contrast, small farmers planting trees can intimately collaborate within their communities to grow organic crops.

In order to actively appreciate the full potential of trees, we need to support initiatives like the fruit tree planting program at HAF, which places focus on the small farmers. HAF helps build the foundation for sustainable development by working directly with farmers, who learn through participatory and self-realization workshops how to promote sustainability at the individual and ecological level. By developing first at the individual level, small farmers learn how their participation directly impacts development and the environment. We, too, need to recognize our ability to make real, global change, especially at a time of increasing surface temperatures, increasing storm severity and frequency, and increasing sea level rise, all caused by greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide. Therefore, mitigating the impending and current climate crisis requires us to take action, and by supporting small farmers planting carbon sequestering trees, we can directly impact our climate future.

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In the recent webinar titled “Crops to End Hunger: Accelerating Seed Delivery through 

Sustainable Seed Systems” hosted by Agrilinks, speakers described the challenges, new approaches, and potential solutions surrounding commercial seed delivery in developing nations in Africa. Some of the panelists had recently developed a whitepaper making recommendations on how to increase the number of crop varieties available to farmers and seed varietal turnover so that better seeds make their way to farmers. 

By breaking down the process from research and breeding to growth and farming into a product life cycle, they made it easier to understand the difficulties at each step and where solutions can be targeted for the greatest impact. In taking this approach, the High Atlas Foundation’s (HAF) role in the process can be outlined, enabling and accelerating the growth of better crop varieties.

The webinar’s speakers used the product life cycle for seed systems to describe the obstacles and challenges facing seed delivery. Nora Lapitan, from the USAID Bureau for Resilience and Food Security summarized the project life cycle as being split into three phases: Breeding, Decision Point (where a decision is made on what variety is produced, promoted, registered, and commercialized), and the Production, Marketing, and Distribution phase. She mentioned that this life cycle can be a tool for collaboration as partnerships are vital for success, especially in the breeding stages. 

Tony Gathungu, Global Head of Seeds2B for The Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA), used this project life cycle approach to describe challenges. He mentioned that the link between breeding and production of seeds was not happening naturally in the public sector. Reasons for this include a larger number of seed varieties, and inadequate data about these varieties for farmers to make decisions. In addition, government licensing approaches are complicated and unclear. At each step along the way, from variety design to seed sales of new varieties, numerous factors make it difficult for the latest seeds to be grown. 

So where does HAF fit into this process? Barbara Wells, Director General of the International Potato Center, mentioned that in regards to seed delivery, it is imperative to “partner with local stakeholders to see impact at scale”. HAF’s participatory development approach places it in a unique position with close contact and partnerships with farmers. Using the product life cycle approach isolates stages where HAF’s help is most effective. 

For example, Gathungu noted that a common challenge in the “growth” subphase is farmers lacking awareness of and distrusting new varieties of seeds. In addition, Jane Ininda, Head of Seed Research and Systems Development at Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), mentioned making farmers aware of new varieties with superior traits is a key priority for the sector. 

Capacity-building workshops target these issues, helping farmers select the best varieties for their area and running farmer-awareness campaigns. This also provides a solution to the problems of a large number of varieties with lacking data, which takes place in the vital “Decision Point” phase of the project life cycle. HAF assistance of community nurseries through its implementation of the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer Program is an opportunity for local farmers to test new varieties of seeds and monitor their growth, and to collect information to determine their effectiveness and value. In this way and others, HAF helps Moroccan farmers decide which seeds are best suited for them, assuring them of their effectiveness and accelerating the uptake of new varieties

Hence, analyzing seed delivery and development as a product life cycle isolates obstacles and targets solutions, accelerating new seed variety adoption by farmers. HAF and its community, civil, and governmental partners  can help solve problems along certain phases of the life cycle through its close relationship with farmers. As these seed varieties reach farmers, better crops will be cultivated and the cycle will continue, with ever-improving seed varieties emerging and being grown. This will help in the difficult fight against poverty and hunger, improving the lives of millions.

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The High Atlas Foundation (HAF) implements the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer Program (F2F) in Morocco. As part of this volunteer initiative team members visited the members of the Aguerzrane women’s cooperative located in the Toubkal Municipality of the Taroudant Province on Thursday the 8th of July. It was a follow up meeting to facilitate participatory monitoring with members to understand the impact and needs following the Imagine Empowerment Workshop and visits by local F2F Volunteer agricultural experts working virtually in conjunction with American professionals. 

There are 31 members of the cooperative who work different shifts over the week managing a fruit tree nursery of 27,000 cherry saplings. The new revenue generated, even as it is needed income and significant as a total sum, may not be having as significant impact as the members need due to its equal division among many families. They therefore seek revenue generating activities such as processing food products. They observe the demand for traditional bread for their own and surrounding villages as well as for the local weekly market. The irrigation system requires additional filtering in order for small stones to not clog the pressure drip system. 

The terraces and the nursery are built on a mountainside. The new terraces upon which the trees sit are on a mountainside and surrounded by fencing over which would be two to three meters high that HAF would immediately financially support. Adjacent to the existing terraces, there is space where two more could be built. Cooperative members are evaluating the cost-benefit of adding the additional terraces. Overall, it was positive to see the process of achieving an idea that was born from the Imagine Workshop experience that together the women of Aguerzrane can define their individual and collective vision, implement it, see its green growth aftermath, benefit from new revenue, integrate domestic and international partnerships, and continue to plan and act together for increasing achievements. 

The municipality during the 2021 cherry harvest yielded approximately 32 tons sold in the domestic market. The organic cherry trees grown into saplings by this cooperative will assist the people in vastly increasing this source of food and income generation.

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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)or Global Goals are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to achieve a better and more sustainable future. The SDGs were set up in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly, to be achieved by 2030. Nations around the world adopted these goals in recognition of the fact that ending poverty must be done in tandem with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and drive economic growth, while tackling climate change and preserving our oceans and forests.

The 17 SDGs are: (1) No Poverty, (2) Zero Hunger, (3) Good Health and Well-being, (4) Quality Education, (5) Gender Equality, (6) Clean Water and Sanitation, (7) Affordable and Clean Energy, (8) Decent Work and Economic Growth, (9) Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, (10) Reducing Inequality, (11) Sustainable Cities and Communities, (12) Responsible Consumption and Production, (13) Climate Action, (14) Life Below Water, (15) Life On Land, (16) Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions, (17) Partnerships for the Goals.

On June 6, 2021, the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) held a side event for the 2021 HLPF titled From Science to Practice: Harnessing Research to Build Forward Better. At this forum, a panel of experts from around the world discussed how research often fails to find its way into policy-making circles due to technical, cultural, political, institutional and financial barriers.

Unfortunately, progress on the 17 SDGs lags far behind. COVID-19 in particular has been challenging, and in some cases, the pandemic has exposed the gaps between the latest scientific discoveries and policy-making. While research and innovation alone cannot get us the 17 SDGs by 2030, collaboration across civil and political society can help get us there.

SDG 2’s aim is to end hunger, achieve food security, and promote sustainable agriculture. At the forum, the experts highlighted some of the challenges that SDG 2 faces while pursuing sustainable agriculture. For instance, the overexploitation of resources by industrial farming, exclusion of smallholder farmers, increasing precarity of subsistence farming, shifting consumption patterns, and the role of global trade in creating new nutrition challenges. Some recommendations to address these challenges were supporting farmers, drawing on local and traditional knowledge, and building collaborative networks.

In our increasingly connected world, we must find a way to bring together scientists and experts from different fields alongside public policy specialists and NGOs who can highlight historically marginalized voices. HAF’s Farmer-To-Farmer (F2F) program is an embodiment of this situation. F2F is a USAID initiative which aims to bring volunteers with expertise in numerous phases of the agricultural development value chain, including tree and plant nurseries, irrigation, cooperative-building, food safety, and commercialization of processed products to Morocco and other countries. The F2F program has demonstrated how volunteers can help individuals and organizations build local communities, bring new knowledge, and strengthen existing sustainable agriculture practices.

The COVID-19 pandemic, although devastating, showed how volunteers can even be useful in a virtual scenario. USAID encouraged F2F implementers to pair local volunteers with remote American volunteers to collaborate. HAF’s first partnership happened in the Tassa Ouirgane village in the Marrakech-Safi region. The results of this assignment include the young women registering as a formal cooperative. These women took this opportunity to learn, grow, and challenge themselves and societal norms. As F2F engages small farmers, this benefits both the farmers and the environment. Additionally, F2F builds on traditional Moroccan knowledge with the latest research on sustainable agricultural practices through volunteers. Hence, HAF’s implementation of F2F directly contributes to the pursuit of SDG 2.

Sustainable agricultural practices are sorely needed to protect the environment, preserve and expand the Earth’s natural resources, and improve soil fertility. Unfortunately, promoting industrial agriculture cannot be the answer to achieving food security through unsustainable agricultural practices. Hence, HAF helping small farmers learn and practice sustainable agriculture practices will help both economic development and achieve SDG 2.

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Organization Information

High Atlas Foundation

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AtlasHigh
Project Leader:
Yossef Ben-Meir
President of the High Atlas Foundation
Marrakech, Morocco
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