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Irrigation Systems for Fruit Tree Agriculture

by High Atlas Foundation
Irrigation Systems for Fruit Tree Agriculture
Irrigation Systems for Fruit Tree Agriculture
Irrigation Systems for Fruit Tree Agriculture
Irrigation Systems for Fruit Tree Agriculture
Irrigation Systems for Fruit Tree Agriculture
Irrigation Systems for Fruit Tree Agriculture
Irrigation Systems for Fruit Tree Agriculture
Irrigation Systems for Fruit Tree Agriculture
Irrigation Systems for Fruit Tree Agriculture
Irrigation Systems for Fruit Tree Agriculture
Irrigation Systems for Fruit Tree Agriculture
Irrigation Systems for Fruit Tree Agriculture
Irrigation Systems for Fruit Tree Agriculture
Irrigation Systems for Fruit Tree Agriculture

How can we achieve sustainable development, not just globally, but specifically in Morocco? We must first consider what the central features of this development are. We must incorporate many factors in creative and innovative design: education, gender, ethics, economics, politics, culture, history, geography, finance, and technical aspects in order for sustainable projects to have enduring success. We also need to employ a participatory approach. We have learned over time through trial and error and observation of how development assistance has been institutionalized in the past 70 years that participation and sustainability are inextricably linked.

How can we actualize people’s participation in their own community’s change? We achieve it, first and foremost, by being skilled facilitators in conducting the kinds of community meetings in which people come together to express their points of view, their concerns and hopes and dreams, including the young, the ones without land, the remote, the disadvantaged, and the marginalized. As change agents, we at the High Atlas Foundation must plan, schedule, and coordinate such meetings. We must make sure that all parties are aware of it and that it occurs at a time when the participants are free to attend. We therefore have to adapt our schedules to theirs. We need to research and gather data in advance. Most importantly, we must be trained – through study, observation, and application – how to assist in consensus-building activities where all participants have a chance to speak. As sociologist August Comte noted, the way to know research methodologies and understand their intricacies is to apply them; it is the same for facilitation skills.

How do we become effective facilitators? Conventionally, we must provide a good environment where people can face each other, make eye contact, and listen to one another within a safe space, one in which rules and boundaries are set. Today, we must explore as best we can how we can attain the “sum being greater than the parts,” which happens when there is direct dialogue for decision-making among community members and partners. However, now we must achieve this condition of sustainability in the context of remote communication. Facilitators must be able to empathize to create that comfort zone, to balance each person’s length of time talking, and to sense how much to push or to release a speaker, how to react to those who resist or work against the process and encourage conversation to confront those obstacles. Facilitators must develop sensitivity.

When we allow others the maximum opportunity to lead and give space for that to occur, the projects that emerge have lasting benefits. This means having a broader understanding of what is needed. For example, the High Atlas Foundation has planted two million trees since 2014. For these cooperatives to gain further support from partners and donors for their fruit tree initiatives, they must monitor those trees. We need to help them build their capacity to do that even though it might not have arisen as one of their heartfelt desires. It is the job of HAF to interject information and project requirements to help steer a community in a direction that they did not perceive as necessary in order for that community to achieve success for what they envisioned – for something they want that includes procedures that they did not necessarily choose. This is an essential part of a facilitator: to bring in knowledge and conditions and factors and the reality of what is required in order to achieve the goals even if it means taking actions that the community does not prefer or plan.

Where are the available resources – financial and otherwise – that communities need in order to achieve what they most want? We need to know that information, to know whether the resources are within Morocco – at the national, provincial, or regional level – or outside of the nation, through the European or African Unions, for instance. Not only that, but we need to be able to assist them in accessing those resources. In this vein, we need to provide support in proposal development. They need advice from technical experts to design business plans that incorporate marketing and cost-benefit projections. We provide this, fielding volunteers from the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer Program. To be sustainable, the beneficiaries have to learn how to build those plans. That is also an essential part of what facilitators do – transferring those capacities and abilities to the people that want to realize those goals in their lives – because we cannot be business-plan builders forever. We need to equip the Moroccan people who we serve to develop the plans for their future.

Three-quarters of the people who experience poverty in this nation are in rural places. One of the things we see that keeps the Moroccan rural families down is that their products may be organic but are not certified and that if they do go to a market beyond Morocco are exported raw, so the growers themselves are not benefiting by the global rises in commodity prices. Not only do they not have the ability to transition to more lucrative crops from traditional barley and corn, but they do not have the capacity to process, to commercialize, or to efficiently irrigate. An effective facilitator must understand the global context that creates these harsh, bitter realities, must know multiple explanations for why societies have evolved to their current structures, with the control of women and girls, with the dissatisfaction and detachment from the production that the people dedicate themselves to every day, with these burdensome and oppressive conditions. We need to be steeped in theories of social change in order to understand the local realities.

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The F2f program conducted the Latin America & the Caribbean Regional Meeting that took place in Kingston, Jamaica from January 5-11, 2020. Morocco was one of the 13 countries that had the opportunity to attend this conference as an only African, Arab, Muslim country.

Guatemala, Colombia, Guyana, Philippine, Pero and other countries welcomed by the F2F family in Jamaica, which is a part of this beautiful, experience that started by the first days of the New Year.

The first-morning session began by a huge welcome from the two Jamaican ministers of Agriculture and Tourism who talked about the value of the technical assistance that could make a difference for the small farmers and their farms.

Technical assistance maybe is a simple phrase in the mouth of many people; however, it is a heavy value for persons that benefited from the F2F program. which is a program authorized by the Congress in the 1985 Farm Bill and funded through Title V of Public Law 480, concentrated in increase agricultural sector productivity and profitability; Improve conservation and sustainable use of environmental and natural resources; Expand agricultural sector access to financial services; and strengthen agricultural sector institutions. It is a program for sharing knowledge and skills by expert volunteers with farmers throughout the world.

The High Atlas Foundation as a Moroccan nonprofit organization benefited from 27 expert volunteers in 2017-2018, who assisted more than 20 cooperatives and farmers in four provinces.  Based on the successful experience HAF signed a partnership with the F2F program in July 2019, to welcome 70 expert volunteers that will be working with 80 agriculture cooperatives in the 3 regions - Marrakech-Safi, Beni Mellal-Khenifra, and the Oujda region.

To improve the skills to how to manage and implement the program smoothly and efficacy, the F2F program offered that regional conference for sharing knowledge and challenges between countries and resolve by pieces of the training session and focus groups to evoke the best practices that got it from the field during the volunteer assignment with the host. The conference made several introductions, presentations, group exercises about the procedure before, during and after the assignment that include the logistic as well as the follow up with the host and icebreakers for relaxing and building relationships between participants. 

The last day of the conference designated for a group of field visits to some of the Jamaican hosts operating in aquaculture.

The big F2F family was recognized and met through a very important experience. It was also an occasion to build human relations and introduce the culture of the participating countries as well as exchange information and recommendations regarding the volunteer experts. The conference concluded with the distribution of participation certificates in a family atmosphere prevailing in love, fraternity and farewell in the hope of meeting again.

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On February 27th, two of the High Atlas Foundation’s team members, Mr. Moulay Hassan, Country Director of the Farmer-to-Farmer program, and Fatima Zahra, Administrative Support and Finance, Farmer-to-Farmer program attended the USAID Implementing Partners Meeting organized by USAID/ Morocco.

The meeting took place at Sofitel in Rabat Salle ALBA MAXIMA - Mezzanine level from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., starting with a speech by the USAID/Morocco Mission Director followed by presentations by new implementing partners. The first such presentation was about a higher education partnership between Morocco and the U.S. state of Arizona, and this was followed by another presentation by a Kenyan woman from a nonprofit organization called Give Directly that lets donors send money directly to the world’s poorest. They believe people living in poverty deserve the dignity to choose for themselves how best to improve their lives, and cash enables that choice. The third presentation was by sInteractive Digital Center.

Seventy persons from different regions of Morocco attended this meeting. Each partner was given the opportunity to talk about successful assignments and the tangible impact of the project that is funded by USAID. The meeting ended with a presentation by Mrs. Monica about USAID’s Private Sector Engagement Policy, issued by the agency in December 2018, and rooted in a collaboration with the private sector for greater scale, sustainability and effectiveness. Policy administrator Mark Green called on USAID staff to embrace market-based approaches, citing private enterprise as one of the most powerful forces for lifting and strengthening a community and accelerating countries toward self-reliance.

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Every third Monday of January is the High Atlas Foundation’s annual event “Tree Planting Day.” On this date, all staff members and volunteers come together and plant organic fruit trees across nearly a dozen regions in Morocco. My site this year was the Sbaiaat municipality in El youssoufia province, where we brought 1,800 trees of Almond, Pomegranate, and Fig varieties, to be planted (without pesticides of course!).

On a beautiful rainy morning yesterday, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with 15 farmers and discuss their amazing commitment to not only advance the organic agricultural field in Morocco, but also contribute to protection of their environment. After this, we got our hands dirty while planting trees with the help of some local farmers, and two schoolchildren. With this, I was proud to invoke one of HAF’s main principles of “spreading the culture of planting among kids and their communities.”

Finally, we finished our day with a delicious lunch of Couscous kindly prepared by community members who encouraged us to keep spreading our mission, continue our dedication to furthering sustainable development.

As a HAF project manager and Moroccan youth, I am proud to contribute to environmental protection, empowerment, and economic growth in communities across the nation!

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Hello everybody.

My name is Nora, and I am a new intern at HAF. Over the next 4 months, you can follow my internship journey on the HAF blog.

About Me

Allow me to first introduce myself. I am 29 years old, and I study International Social Work in the master’s program at the University of Applied Science in Erfurt, Germany. The third semester of my program consists of an internship abroad which also encompasses the initial research for my master’s thesis. As I am interested in Arabic language and culture and always wanted to travel to Morocco, working with HAF seemed to be a perfect opportunity to find out more about the country’s ongoing developments and social projects. So, here I am.

I’m not certain about the topic of my thesis yet, but I hope the following months interning with HAF will help to steer me in the right direction. In general, I hope to  find out how to develop and implement sustainable projects that have positive effects on the environment, contribute to poverty alleviation, and improve the living conditions of disadvantaged people. HAF’s work seems highly promising to me, and I’m looking forward to gaining insight into their projects and contributing to their work.

In my first week as an intern, I was entrusted with research and administration tasks. I was ready and very excited to go on my first field visit yesterday. Together with my colleagues, Said and Abduljallil, our driver, Hassan, and Pieter, Chief Tree Planting Officer from Ecosia, I visited several of HAF’s tree planting sites.

Ecosia: An Eco-Friendly Search Engine

You may be familiar with the Ecosia search engine, which is similar to Google but has the incredible advantage that the profit generated by the company is used to plant trees. If you ever wondered how Ecosia finances their tree plantings with your search requests, let me tell you a bit more about their work, as I had the opportunity to talk to Pieter about Ecosia’s projects and ask him all of my questions.

Pieter told me that the number of trees planted by Ecosia all around the world reached 50 million in February 2019. That number has already grown to more than 70 million! In Morocco, Ecosia is funding the planting of 1.2 million trees in partnership with HAF. It was really interesting for me to find out how search requests are translated into trees, mainly based on the revenue Ecosia generates from advertisements. Basically, this works based on the number of clicks per ad on the Ecosia site. But even if you never click on advertisements, you still contribute to the movement because the more active monthly users the website has, the more relevant it becomes to advertisers. On average it takes about 45 search queries to plant a tree. This number varies according to location.

To make sure that all tree plantings are measurable and traceable, sites must be carefully monitored. The methodology of doing so was a primary reason for Pieter’s visit to HAF. The purpose of our field visit was to show Pieter a number of HAF nurseries and the progress of the trees as well as to discuss future collaboration between Ecosia and HAF.

Into the Field

First, we visited a remote village in the Marrakech region. The trip there was amazing. The only possible way to reach the village is a curvy, bumpy dirt and gravel road. Once we arrived, the landscape was simply stunning. As or even more impressive, however, were the people and their trees. Three young men from the local farmers’ association showed us their planting sites, and we were able to converse with some of the proud owners of the land. Even Pieter, who has a deep knowledge about trees, was deeply impressed by the size and the condition of the trees. For example, some of the olive trees planted only 2 years ago are already head-high and have fruit ready to harvest. Abdeljalil, who works on-site with the farmers most of the time, told us that the progress is simply owed to the care and attentiveness offered to the nursery.

In the afternoon, we visited a beautiful garden where saffron is grown. Here, we saw how to practically use space between trees to grow high-value plants and at the same time preserve the good quality of the soil in a natural way.

Later, we visited the school, where HAF with support from Ecosia could enable children and teachers to plant shade-giving trees for the schoolyard.

Conclusions and Remaining Questions

It was fascinating for me to see the different planting sites and gain deeper insight and understanding into the operations of a big company like Ecosia. I still have many questions. For example, I still am interested to know how trees are distributed by HAF and how farmers are selected. Also still on my mind is water supply for farmers--a major issue and consideration in all such projects. I hope to gain a better understanding of these processes throughout my next field trips. These topics are discussed in depth throughout a HAF-Ecosia partnership.

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Organization Information

High Atlas Foundation

Location: New York, NY - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @haffdtn
Project Leader:
Yossef Ben-Meir
President of the High Atlas Foundation
New York and Marrakech, Morocco
$9,486 raised of $30,000 goal
215 donations
$20,514 to go
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