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

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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Farmer to Farmer team in the Impact Assessment sessions

Two years after starting the Farmer to Farmer (F2F) project in Morocco, the program was able to work with a wide range of agricultural cooperatives, reaching 58 agricultural cooperatives in three regions (Marrakech-Safi, Beni Mellal-Khnifra, and the Oriental region), 14 of them led by women.

Some of these cooperatives started as women's groups seeking to break out of the cycle of stagnation and neglect. Others benefited from other projects that the Foundation is working on, including the establishment of fruit trees and aromatic and medicinal plants nurseries.

Alkhayr, Takharkhourte, Aljamaane, and Azagrane Cooperatives were some of the successful cooperatives that benefited from a self-empowerment workshop, through which women got to know the extent of their abilities and their talents that had been hidden by several material, geographical, and other factors.

Through the empowerment workshop, the cooperative was able to move forward to work on its vision of establishing fruit trees and a medicinal plants nursery. Under major partnerships with Ecosia as well as the F2F program, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) supported the cooperatives to help bring their members' vision to fruition for a bright future in the region.  Despite the consequences of the COVID19 crisis, the cooperative was able to move forward and not close its doors. In less than a year, the members were able to plant more than 170,000 seeds of different types of fruit trees.

Other cooperatives were established before the program, but they lacked many skills. In contrast, these women were able to learn some of those skills through the technical assistance provided by the F2F program. Recordkeeping, feasibility studies, E-Marketing, and other training helped clarify many behaviors and also contributed to solving many obstacles and challenges faced by these cooperatives, especially during the pandemic period that was not taken into account. There are some cooperatives that took the COVID 19 pandemic as an opportunity to prepare new products. For instance, Mogador cooperative in Ounagha/Essaouira was one of those that produced liquid soap from Argan products for frequent hand-washing.

Amal cooperative in Boughriba/Berkane also changed its main activity from raising rabbits to making lemon jam and Moroccan pastries. Slimania also changed its activity and benefited from an incubator from DPA which helped to raise some money, by selling eggs and chickens. Some of the other cooperatives’ activities were stopped due to the negative effects caused by the pandemic, and most of these cooperatives were working in beekeeping. Despite the two good trainings in Guercif and Al Haouz provinces provided by Mr. Lahcen and Mr. Mustafa on how to groom queen bees, many of them lost ten of boxes either as a result of hunger or lack of monitoring and tracking.

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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
$41,314 raised of $50,000 goal
541 donations
$8,686 to go
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