Updated: Jul 10
By Ibtissam Niri Program Manager
In order to complete conducting impact assessments with host organizations that benefited from F2F technical assistance in 2020, I went to Ouarzazate and Taroudant for three days and met again with people there.
Thursday morning, Mr. Hassan the Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) driver, our tree planting colleague Safaa Ben Karoum, and I set off from Marrakech to Ouarzazate to meet with the Members of Ahl Ezaouya Cooperative in the Ighrm N’doukal municipality. The cooperative has benefited from two paired F2F assignments in partnership-building, nursery technical assistance, and workshops in planting and irrigation. These workshops help with developing a comprehensive fruit tree nursery project design, budget, and sustainability plan.
The cooperative president mentioned in our meeting that the training was highly needed to develop now and in the future. They are excited to look for other opportunities and to discover a new way forward.
Working on growing a small nursery was a great idea to enhance the cooperative’s work with cultivating and selling aromatic plants. The cooperative began flourishing by participating in regional and national exhibitions of its new products. “From 2020 up to now we participated in 50 exhibitions either regionally or nationally and I am so proud of what we achieved”. Mr. Hamad said.
On our way to Toubkal municipality, we visited the Imerdal nursery, one of the nurseries the F2F local expert volunteer visited during his assignment. The nursery began through a partnership with HAF and the National Initiative for Human Development (a financial contributor) and the Moroccan Jewish Community (the provider of the land in-kind), and immediately after the partnerships were established, the F2F program provided technical assistance with the community that was provided by Volunteer Hicham Amarouch. He conducted training on how to build a tree nursery plan and the difficulties that a nursery can face. Notably, in the case of terraces, 100,000 almond, carob, cherry, and walnut saplings were planted and distributed from the nursery land.
We then arrived at 6:30 pm at Aguerzrane village, and despite the fact that it was freezing, we enjoyed the musical notes blown by the wind. All the beautiful memories were back again at that moment. I remember in 2018 when I finished the full four days of the Imagine empowerment workshop with the women and how difficult it was to say goodbye, I heard again the notes of these songs of goodbye and love driving on the road by the river. I left with the hope that these women will stay committed to their vision of creating their own cooperative and establishing their nursery. Drops of rain came and woke me from my memories which were one of the best memories in this place.
In 2020-2022, more than 30,000 cherry and walnut seeds were planted and distributed from the women’s nursery, which shows the impact of what HAF was doing in this region, with the initial Imagine workshop and now with the technical training under the F2F program. This training allowed these women to understand the essential tools of irrigation and planting. The skills learned in this workshop were translated into practice with HAF’s tree-planting project.
After finishing our conversation with the caretaker we went back to meet the women in the classroom that was used to conduct the full four days of workshops a few years ago, to dream together and enjoy the journey together. Some of the women knew me and others didn’t, they hadn’t attended the workshop but they had heard about it. The work vision started from here, in this room, and with these women, and it ended in the amazing reality that is the established nursery.
Memories came back with nostalgia for the past, for innocence, for the values that gathered us for love and social work, which is a positive energy that always makes us appreciate it, despite the long trip hours, the travel fatigue, and the negative feedback from people who didn’t experience our social journey.
To conclude my trip, I participated in a tree planting day with Intelcia, our new partner. We met together in Amrzagane to plant fruit trees wishing that their impact be achievable by the upcoming generations.