The High Atlas Foundation, a recipient of the Alliance for Global Good’s Innovation Fund, has been hard at work developing and implementing its social enterprise, High Atlas Agriculture and Artisanal (HA3). In 2012, the Alliance for Global Good granted the High Atlas Foundation funds to spur organic agriculture in the Toubkal site. Thanks to the initial funds provided by the Innovation Fund, HAF has obtained organic certification of walnuts at its pilot site, the Rural Municipality of Toubkal, in the High Atlas Mountains.
The goal of HA3 is to grow earned income of rural Moroccans working in agriculture, and it will be reached when the product will be exported to the United States this fall. In addition, HAF-HA3 will create local initiatives that span the entire agricultural development cycle – from nurseries to market, farm to fork – of certified organic agricultural raw and value-added products, eliminating a middle-man and ensuring increased revenues for Moroccan farmers.
Marketed as organic, fair-trade and environmentally and socially responsible ensures that Moroccan agriculture is value-added and sustainable. In addition, it will generate a multiplied return: HA3 will invest these profits in education, health, water infrastructure, and business development, particularly for women and youth. In this way, cooperatives act as engines of local development.
This model, however, is not limited solely to Morocco: HA3’s reinvestment model can be replicated throughout the Middle East/North Africa region as a sustainable means to address food security and development challenges. HAF has already formed partnerships to begin implementing this model in Palestine, Jordan, and Burkina Faso. In addition, HA3 has received international recognition for its viability and social entrepreneurial mission. In 2013, HAF received the SEED Award for its HA3 business model and for achievements in innovation, and for its promising efforts to promote economic growth, social development and environmental protection in Morocco. In 2014, HAF was chosen as an innovative “idea carrier” to present the HA3 model at an Agora MedSpring Brokerage Event.
This fall, the 2014-2015 almond and walnut harvest will be ready for certification and fair trade export to the United States and Europe. HAF and HA3 are working closely with EcoCert, the international company that is responsible for organic audit and certification processes.
Earlier this year, HA3 secured organic certification in the Taroudant province for 254 hectares of walnuts through the Ecocert. Here, 26 villages with more than 13,000 trees will generate approximately 200 MT of organic product. In addition, three international/US buyers have been identified, while domestic/Moroccan buyers will provide a backup market: one buyer of two large supermarket chains has already been identified in Morocco. A total of nine Cooperatives are to have ownership in HA3. To date, two cooperative registrations have been formalized and seven are underway.
The starter fund provided by the Alliance for Global Good has done more than simply jump-start the process for organic certification for HA3 in the Toubkal province; it has helped address food security, sustainability, and environmental concerns throughout Moroccan provinces and beyond. We are seeking partners to help us complete the remaining part of the value chain – which is the ability to purchase the organic walnuts directly from the family farmers and enable us to sell the product on the global market. Contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) to participate in this green investment.