Through the incredible achievement of the 1 million tree campaign, HAF was able to pilot and roll-out a model of transformative rural arboriculture and irrigation which provided the training, start-up capital and confidence for 5,000 families to make the step away from subsistence farming and out of poverty. This is a success in itself, but it forms only the basis of a much bigger vision; that of an export-oriented organic revolution which HAF hopes to bring to all rural provinces of Morocco. HAF is now aiming for one billion trees planted in Morocco and has received international recognition (from the UN SEED Initiative and at the AgoraMed Spring event) for its innovative – yet community-driven – approach to significantly increasing rural incomes in Morocco, which is based around the creation of a social enterprise, High Atlas Agriculture and Artisanal (HA3).
The HA3 social entrepreneurial mission is twofold: it strives to improve the viable and sustainable livelihood of rural Moroccan communities, while maintaining an eco-friendly approach to economic growth. The HA3 enterprise is a transferable, sustainable, green growth business model that addresses dynamic human and environmental needs in Morocco, Africa, and the Middle East.
The idea is simple but the vision is large. Low incomes (according to the World Bank, 85% of Moroccan rural households live below the national average income) prevent subsistence farmers making the transition to more economically and environmentally sustainable arboriculture, thereby perpetuating a cycle of poverty, low education levels, illiteracy, gender bias and disintegration of the social fabric through rural depopulation. With the support of grant and aid money and the donation of land from public and private bodies, HAF is able to create fruit tree nurseries which also act as classrooms for family farmers to learn organic agricultural techniques. With the labor of the local community, HAF helps dig wells, catch melt- and rainwater and organize irrigation. HAF does not impose these new ideas on communities: these are their ideas, as expressed in facilitated community meetings. The farmers are determined to plant and nurture the produce of the nursery (which is sold to them at a symbolic price) in their fields – often along the verges of fields used for other crops. Coached by HAF, these famers form associations and cooperatives to protect their interests, share their knowledge and strengthen their market power. But the story doesn’t stop at the local market, where these farmers can sell their walnuts, almonds and fruit for a far greater return than they sold cereals or vegetables. The HA3 vision is much bigger than that, and takes these farmers’ hopes and dreams over oceans. HA3 partners with the coops and other stakeholders to purchase, package and market the products of HAF-partnered nurseries, orchards, and organic greenhouse products. All of this is conducted with a commitment to zero-waste, as we anticipate using the nut shells and hulls to make low emission fuel briquettes. Ultimately, the aim is to export Moroccan fair-trade, organic produce to the US and EU markets for the benefit of farming families and to enable reinvestment in their human development projects. By offering a fair market price, the farmers receive greater income. A significant added value is achieved when the produce is marketed as organic, fair-trade and environmentally and socially responsible – and it will generate a multiplied return in communities through investment in education, health, water infrastructure, and small business development particularly for women and young people. In this way, the local coops act as engines of local development far beyond the initial family farmers growing fruits and nuts. HA3’s purpose is to reduce human needs by directing its net revenue to transform the status of marginalized communities. As a subsidiary corporate service to the High Atlas Foundation (HAF), HA3 works to continue reliable and efficient services necessary to complete the cycle of reinvestment into Morocco’s rural communities and shared earth. Our success resides in our ability to be an ecologically responsible and positive change agent. HAF and HA3’s activities in the agricultural sector include…
- - Building community-managed tree and medicinal plant nurseries, orchards, and greenhouses and irrigation infrastructure (terracing, basins, wells, piping);
- - Training local farmers in organic and integrated techniques related to nursery and orchard planting, expansion, and maintenance;
- - Securing product organic certification and other certifications;
- - Purchasing (or acquiring) hulls, shells, nut meat and value added processing of product with support from HA3-partnered provincial-level farming Cooperatives;
- - Marketing and competitive sale of the products to achieve maximum profit (starting with walnuts and almonds from the High Atlas Mountains);
- - Distribution of net profit generated to family farmers for added financial gain with support from HA3-partnered provincial-level farming Cooperatives, and
- - Reinvesting in agricultural and human development projects identified by the community, such as in education, health, women and youth empowerment.
This innovative social enterprise is not yet a registered Moroccan entity. If you would like to partner with HAF on this innovative model of agri-entrepreneurism, you can do so in either of two ways. To support the realization of HA3 and its activities financially, please click here. To offer expertise or other contributions in kind, please contact HAF at the address at the foot of the homepage.