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Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans

by High Atlas Foundation
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans
Tree Nurseries to Benefit 10,000 Rural Moroccans

The Farmer to Farmer (F2F) program is a USAID development initiative that is implemented throughout the world. During the past 20 years, I had the opportunity to volunteer for 80 assignments in 14 countries. In Morocco, the F2F program is administered by Land O’Lakes International Development (LOL), a U.S. agricultural cooperative, who provided me with the opportunity to volunteer in Morocco for the first time.


My assignment title was (Improvement of schools tree nurseries) and was hosted by the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) in Marrakech.  HAF is a US non-profit organization founded in 2000 for the purpose of advancing sustainable development in Morocco and assists communities in achieving their projects in agriculture, education, health, and multiculturism. HAF is headed by Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir and very dedicated staff members.

SAMI’s PROJECT enables students to thrive in a healthy school environment. The Project spreads the culture of planting among students so that they may discover and practice innovative agriculture techniques. HAF assists primary schools through to universities to develop and establish plant nurseries and wild gardens. These school nurseries provide students with hands-on learning opportunities in organic green culture and sustainable income development.  The Project also promotes school infrastructure, such as building classrooms, bathrooms, and clean water systems.


The High Atlas Foundation has eleven nurseries in five provinces of Morocco, where they produce varieties of organic fruit trees, forestry trees, and herbal and wild medicinal plants. Trees include; almond, Argan, carob, cherry, fig, grape, lemon, olive, pomegranate, quince, and walnut.  Plants also include Calendula officinalis.


Since 2003, HAF planted approximately 3 million seeds and trees with farming families and schools, which impacted thousand household incomes. During this 2018 planting season (January through March), HAF’s SAMI’s PROJECT planted 15,000 trees with 155 schools engaging 18,000 students in 23 provinces.


During my assignment I visited middle and high schools, met with staff and observed students while they planted trees in their schoolyards. School boys and girls worked together, were full of energy and enthusiasm, and expressed connection with the environment.


Planting trees helps the environment, builds forestry, produces food and a source of income for families, connect students and communities with nature, and promote organic green growth. HAF provides a good model that is transferable beyond Morocco for green organic growth and development.


By Erracihd Montassir, Sami's Project Manager 


This morning we planted with schoolchildren in Rhamna.  I had a great day with the kids and there will some surprises.

 HAF’s Sami’s Project still celebrating the Big Event of the 15th January with schoolchildren.  After we planted in many provinces already, our direction was to Rhamna province this morning, making other green touches with the kids, by planting hundreds of almond and pomegranate trees, which are definitely a future source of income for the schools.
In our action this morning was a moment when I was delivering each tree to every two children as a small project for them.  They can take care of the tree until it gives fruit.  It happened that I met with my nephew by accident! He is studying in one of the schools that we planted in. He was extremely happy to see me and plant trees together in his school, which was a really emotional moment for me. 

I am a late career American businessman.  Currently I spend up to half of each year volunteering with NGOs in developing and middle income countries.  I assist across a range of business disciplines (marketing, sales, strategic planning, and organizational improvement.) Over the past 8 years I have conducted 45 volunteer assignments in 20 or so countries.

Just recently, I spent three weeks in September 2017 conducting a volunteer business assignment in Marrakech, Morocco.  Two US-based NGOs, IESC and Land O’Lakes, sent me on this assignment.  Our client was the High Atlas Foundation (HAF), a United States and Moroccan NGO reaching twelve provinces throughout Morocco. HAF trains communities to integrate agricultural and other human development initiatives. HAF invests in projects in participatory democratic governance, sustainable agriculture, school environment, health and sanitation, integration of women in economic and social environment, and environmental resource management. 

My specific assignment was to address HAF as a crop nursery business. Since 2003, HAF and its partners have planted 2.2 million trees and are currently engaged in a campaign with its public, business, and civil partners to plant one billion trees in Morocco. HAF and community tree planting efforts benefits 5,000 households (about 45,000 people) throughout Morocco. 

HAF is the only non-profit tree-providing nursery in Morocco. Thus it has no direct competitors. The foundation views commercial nurseries, not as competitors, but as business collaborators.  Some 50% of the seedlings HAF donates to beneficiaries are sourced from commercial nurseries. HAF offers multiple fruit and nut trees as well as herbs and medicinal plants to its customers. 

HAF donates its nursery crops free to beneficiaries, usually funded by donor grants. In 2017 to date, 101 organizations (cooperatives, communities, and schools) have received various trees and plants from HAF. 

HAF offers multiple fruit and nut trees as well as herbs and medicinal plants to its customers. Demand likely exceeds supply for the most popular trees provided by HAF nurseries. The foundation will benefit by focusing on a more limited number of products offered.  It is difficult to be efficient and successful when trying to be all things to all people. Consequently, HAF requested assistance to develop a business plan for their tree and plant nurseries. 

The following organic trees plus various plants are offered or under consideration by HAF.

  1. Almond
  2. Argan
  3. Carob
  4. Cherry
  5. Dates (under consideration)
  6. Figs
  7. Lemon (under consideration)
  8. Olive
  9. Pomegranate
  10. Walnuts
  11. Plants (oregano, thyme, wormwood, fennel, rosemary, verbena, lavander, marjoram, sage, geranium, peppermint, capers) 

I conducted a strategic analysis of the HAF nursery business in order to identify action steps required for the organization to take and included this information in the development of a business plan.  The recommendations provided were designed to be realistically implementable and to offer paths of improvement to HAF. 

In order to prioritize HAF’s crop offerings ideally we would evaluate such measures as:

  • Production for the domestic market
  • Production for the export market
  • Sales value of seedlings and of harvested crops
  • Cost of production
  • And so on... 

However such metrics are not easily available, consequently we elected to rely on estimates and qualitative criteria in order to prioritize the products. The following list shows eight metrics that we have used to prioritize our product offerings. 

  • Uses (food, medicine, cosmetics, environmental, fuel)
  • Years until transplantable as a seedling
  • Years until commercially viable
  • Life of orchard in years
  • Current demand for seedlings
  • Production metric tons 2014
  • Seedling sales price
  • Water demand 

The result of our analysis showed that the most attractive trees to concentrate on were olive, pomegranate, carob, fig, and walnut.  Next in line were almond, cherry, and medicinal plants and herbs. 

I thoroughly enjoyed my three week volunteer assignment with the HAF organization.  I hope to be able to assist them again in the future. 

Finally, HAF is an NGO with noble goals and with substantial skills.  The foundation has achieved notable success to date.  Even if none of the recommendations offered in our business assessment are implemented, HAF and its organic nursery business would continue to be a force for good in Morocco. However, the organization has even greater potential to achieve good in the country.  With the implementation of the business plan presented, I believe that the High Atlas Foundation, its partners, and particularly its beneficiaries will all reach an even higher level of success.

During the 2006-2007 planting season, HAF planted over 80,000 fruit trees and saplings with rural communities in Morocco as part of its One Million Tree Campaign.

For the Kate's Jean-Gail Memorial tree nursery we planted 60,000 saplings in February 2007 with communities in the Taroudant Province. In October 2007 the grafting of the saplings took place and the saplings are thriving and healthy. We look forward to monitoring the progress of this nursery in the years to come and to continue our work with this community.

Since this community only had the capacity to grow 60,000 saplings we will be planting an additional 40,000 saplings in 2008 with communities in the Azaddene Valley of Morocco as part of this project. Plans are also underway to plant trees with communities in the Imenane and Azaddene Valleys in 2008 - our goal is to at least double the number we planted last year, planting 160,000 trees and saplings in 2008.

We thank all of you who donated to this fruit tree planting project and look forward to the many things we can together accomplish for rural Morocco.

Thanks to our GlobalGiving supporters the High Atlas Foundation planted a nursery of 60,000 fruit tree saplings with community members in the Tifnoute Valley in February. With your continued support we will raise the remaining funds for this project and plant a second nursery of 40,000 saplings in the Azzadene Valley of the High Atlas Mountains in November (when the next planting season begins).

These two nurseries are part of High Atlas Foundation's committment to plant one million fruit trees and saplings with rural Moroccan communities.


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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
Gueliz - Marrakech, Morocco
$25,314 raised of $50,000 goal
236 donations
$24,686 to go
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