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

Morocco, as any other country, has increasing energy demands, and electricity demand has been projected to rise by 250% from 2015 to 2030, causing the demand to double. The economic growth, the increasing Moroccan population, and the nation’s industrial sector are all motivating factors that drive the demand for more energy sources.

In the agricultural sector, renewable energy offers irrigation solutions to farmers by using the solar water pumps. This system is allowing them to manage the water in a sustainable and ecological manner in favor of exploiting the radiative energy of the sun. Therefore, farmers will get access to water without the constraint of oil or gas supplies in order to operate.

Most nurseries of the High Atlas Foundation have installed solar panels mainly in order to help with the water pumps and also to make use of cheap, renewable solar energy for the long term.

Maintaining the solar panels does not only keep them clean but it also guarantees longer and more effective performance. Last month, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) Farmer to Farmer (F2F) team welcomed Jan Stenstrom, a US Volunteer who traveled all the way to Morocco in order to share his expertise in the field of solar panels with the caretaker of different communities nurseries. 

The solar panels generally need simple and easy maintenance, which can be done two to four times per year, according to the area where they are installed. For example, if it rains more often in a given place, nature is automatically cleaning the panels. However, periodic cleaning is needed in a place where dirt, leaves and other debris cover the solar panels most of the time.

The F2F team and the US volunteer visited three nurseries, two in the Marrakech-Safi Region and one nursery in the Beni-Mellal region. Mr. Stenstrom started all the training by talking about the right materials to do the cleaning, and it is important to note that abrasive soap or sponges are dangerous and might scratch the panels, which therefore leads to less effective production of the energy.

Another important advice for the nurseries’ caretakers to remember is to start the cleaning at an early time of the day before the sunrise or later in the day when the sun sets. Wetting the panels when they are warm might harm the panels and cause damages. That is why the cleaner shall go for the maintenance when the solar panels are cold.

As for the directions, Mr.Stenstrom explained that it is always preferable to start by mixing a biodegradable soap with water in a big bucket, and then dipping in a soft rag and beginning to gently wipe the solar panels. In case there is any grime or dirt that has built up on the panel, it is better to use a soft, wet brush. Last, use a hose for water to rinse the panels and, just as importantly, use a soft wiper at the end. At sites where the panels are very large and difficult to reach because of height as well as enclosure, it is preferred to install a pipe with holes, two centimeters apart, along the top edge of the panel structure, connected to the water system. This would allow for a safe, and easy cleaning of the panels, like the rain would do and it does not present an additional cost to the nurseries’ caretakers.

As you can see, the maintenance steps are simple and easy to implement. However, the person cleaning the panels should be careful and use only soft materials to avoid scratching them. 

The nursery's caretakers were reassured that following these steps will definitely guarantee a great, long-term efficiency of the panels.

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At first glance Mrs. Mesbahi, Mrs. Nadir look no different from any other rural women in Morocco. They live in a far-away area called Lakdirate in Al Youssoufia Province, about 90 km from Marrakech, and lead a mundane country lifestyle, looking after their households. But that is what appears on the surface. Unlike most of the rural women in the region, they are now more independent and proactive in many ways. Above all, they enjoy a degree of financial independence and can support their families.

Their lives changed when a women’s cooperative was established in their area in 2021 after they benefited from an IMAGINE workshop last June 2021 filled with reflection, discussion, and exercises that allowed them to open up on topics that may have been previously uncharted. Providing a structure for discussion went a long way in creating bonds between the women, who had not previously interacted with one another but who have experienced both success and failure and found comfort in common exercises that ultimately helped them create their cooperative. What started as a small initiative involving just a few women has grown into a business employing 30 women from Lakdirate village.

Led by Mrs. Mesbahi, the president of the cooperative, all women who work here have different stories to share but one common goal: to make a living for themselves and their families and create employment opportunities for other women in their community.

Konouz Lakdirate Cooperative aimed to increase agricultural revenue for Moroccan families after growing a fruit tree nursery. However, they needed capacity-building support so that they could achieve their aim.

On December 25th, the Farmer-To-Farmer (F2F) team launched an assignment (O-H-40)  in order to enrich the women’s cooperative Konouz Lakdirate and to help guide their planning, decision-making, and human and material resources allocation.

Boumargoud, the local F2F volunteer, and Klimas, the paired remote U.S volunteer, worked together with the HO members to deliver to them the essential tools for building their business plan on the establishment and management of the tree nursery.

Recently, HAF and its partners helped by launching a pilot project of a tree nursery and  decentralized renewable energies for the benefit of the Konouz Lakdirate cooperative.

Mrs. Douirani says: "Our cooperative was created in a rural area suffering from poverty and drought. The cooperative gathered poor women from the area and gave them jobs. We are producing different types of traditional couscous. And we started recently working in the nursery to produce fruit trees thanks to the project."

Under the project, the cooperative's members benefited from Solar panels installed both at the  Aljoulane school and within the nursery and three wells: two for irrigation and community use and another for the  school. A water tower is also being built for the benefit of the entire village.

Ms. Khalouk, one of the youngest women at the cooperative, says: "I had to stop my studies. But I have been working at the cooperative. And during this period, I attended numerous training , and was also able to gain experience by attending a number of workshops. With the cooperative’s help, I believe I will be able to complete my professional education and earn an income to support myself and my family members. The cooperative and the project are playing a very important role in this dry and poor area."

Currently, their main activities are growing and planting fruit trees with the farming families in the province, they are working to plant Argan, carob,Fig, pomegranate and almond trees.

Konouz Lakdirate co-op is the first one in the community that runs a fruit tree nursery using an irrigation system and Solar panels. The members are seeking to have more and better tree production and to expand their capacity for their future nursery that would allow them to start growing other fruit trees. 

The women of Lakdirat exhibited energy to work in order to support their families and participate in the progress of their community and the F2F program continues supporting them by launching another assignment (O-H-46) of a training workshop on Solar PC maintenance.

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On February 2nd, the Farmer to Farmer team met with the president of OMNIA IHLANE Co-operative and the director of the National Office of the Agricultural Council (ONCA). The purpose of this meeting was to collect data from Omnia  Cooperative President, Sfia. This co-op was created in March 2021 by five ambitious women, and they mainly work with medicinal and aromatic plants.

In collaboration with the Provincial Department of Agriculture (DPA), the High Atlas Foundation seeks to build a nursery for the benefit of OMNIA IHLANE co-op, which will enable them to grow organic fruits and vegetables, medicinal and aromatic plants. This nursery will be the second one in the Rhamna Province after the nursery that was built in Bouchan in 2018. The co-op’s president seems bound and determined to make this project work, and the F2F team is looking forward to helping this community.

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In the Tassa Ouirgane village (located in the Ouirgane municipality of the Al Haouz province), the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) assisted the local women;s group in building an organic fruit trees to benefit their region. In 2019, a new women’s cooperative - called Takherkhourt - was created as a result of the Imagine empowerment workshops to create and manage sustainable projects.

In 2020, HAF and essential partners supported the Tekherkhourt Cooperative in their preparation of the land, establishing the irrigation system, planting of seeds, maintaining the saplings, and transplanting and monitoring them with farming families in the Marrakech region. The Tassa Ouirgane nursery is now operating at full capacity, which includes 40,000 saplings of carob, walnut, olive, fig, and pomegranate.

Following the Imagine workshop, the women experienced multiple series of capacity-building sessions in agriculture, climate change, planting techniques, project management, and communication. Groups visited the nursery and met with the cooperative members, and everyone was inspired by each other and gained from the interactive experience.

As part of the Youth Conservation Program (of the U.S. Forestry Service), cooperative members attended a week of workshops in nursery management, project administration, and logistics. The Tekherkhourt Cooperative has been assisted by the Rotary Club (Washington State and Casablanca), Ecosia, United Nations Development Program, UWC-Robert Bosch College, and the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer Program. The Cooperative Members seek new opportunities and activities, particularly in cultivating medicinal and aromatic plants and beekeeping. The Tassa Ouirgane nursery is a story of women’s empowerment.

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On February 1st, the Farmer to Farmer (F2F) team met Mr. Lahssini, the representative of a steering group with whom High Atlas Foundation (HAF) grew a tree nursery at a school in the Bouchane municipality (Marrakech-Safi region).

The purpose of this meeting was to follow up and collect data. It was clear how they developed their vision and raised their ambitions toward making more change in the community.

“The scale of the cooperative movement matters. It is a sign of its success, built up generation by generation. But, more than this, its greatest strength lies in its ability to touch the lives of ordinary people and to inspire them with the message that, around the world, people like them, with the same hopes and fears, have managed to make their own lives better through co-operation. It is that ability that will continue to help make cooperatives even more relevant in the years to come '' explained Mr Lahssini.

The steering group shared that HAF recently provided 15,000 olive, 3,000 fig, and 2,000 pomegranate trees to improve nursery productivity. They would also like to create a women’s agricultural cooperative that works on the nursery so that they can more easily provide support and incomes to local families. 

The HAF and F2F teams will continue to provide technical support in the management of these nurseries.

These meetings are vital to improving the success and impact of HAF. F2F looks forward to its next visit to Bouchane!

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Organization Information

High Atlas Foundation

Location: New York, NY - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AtlasHigh
Project Leader:
Yossef Ben-Meir
President of the High Atlas Foundation
Marrakech, Morocco
$40,749 raised of $50,000 goal
517 donations
$9,251 to go
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