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From Good Governance to Sustainable Agriculture: Advancing USAID’s Goals in Morocco through the F2F Program

Qsza
المدونة
byHouria Chouhab
onMay 14, 2023

Houria Chouhab
F2F Field Assistant and Technical Volunteer

The Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program is a USAID initiative that promotes sustainable economic growth, agricultural development, and food security by connecting volunteer technical assistance from U.S. experts to farmers, agricultural institutions, and cooperatives in developing countries. F2F began in 1985 and in 2022 volunteer assignments were implemented in 44 countries. Since 2019, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) has been managing the F2F Program in Morocco, completing 72 volunteer assignments conducted by agricultural experts from both the United States and Morocco.

The USAID Mission in Rabat promotes economic growth, good governance, and improved health and education outcomes in Morocco. USAID is a major supporter of economic development by implementing programs that aim to promote trade and investment, build the capacity of small and medium-sized enterprises, and improve the business climate. They collaborate with Moroccan institutions and civil society organizations to enhance good governance practices by promoting transparency, accountability, and citizen participation in decision-making.

USAID supports efforts to improve health outcomes in Morocco by strengthening service-providing systems, expanding access to care, and promoting behavior change. USAID is committed to improving education outcomes by increasing access to quality education, teaching, and promoting literacy. Gender equality is an integrated component of these priorities.

USAID promotes women-owned and women-led businesses, increases access to credit and financial services, promotes women’s participation in decision-making, combats gender-based violence and discrimination, improves access to health care and education, and advances women’s participation in natural resource management and environmental sustainability efforts. By prioritizing women’s empowerment, USAID helps to support sustainable development and create more equitable and prosperous societies.

HAF’s F2F Program integrates within Rabat’s USAID Mission in several key ways. First, the F2F Program aligns with the Mission’s focus on economic growth by providing technical assistance to improve the productivity and profitability of farmers and agricultural cooperatives. HAF’s F2F Program offers training on the best practices for crop production, irrigation, and pest management, leading to increased yields and higher profits for farmers. F2F encourages entrepreneurship by helping farmers develop new skills and knowledge to start their own businesses and market their crops. They also support rural development by training farmers on diversifying crops and improving market access, which creates jobs and increases incomes. Furthermore, F2F encourages innovation by providing farmers with new technologies and ideas, resulting in new business models and value chains that drive economic growth.

Second, the F2F Program contributes to the Mission’s focus on good governance by building the capacities of local agricultural institution members (women and men) to plan and manage initiatives together, network with public and private agencies to gain information and resources, and provide improved services with farming cooperatives and communities.

Women of Tigmi N’Targa Cooperative, Tisfine Commune, Taroudant Province

Third, F2F supports the Mission’s focus on food security by improving the productivity and income of smallholder farming households. F2F Volunteers help increase the availability of food, reduce the risk of hunger and malnutrition, and enhance the long-term sustainability of the agricultural sector. Through their workshops, participants are able to learn about important food safety regulations and guidelines as well as practical tips for maintaining a safe and hygienic food production environment. By improving farmers’ livelihoods, the F2F program also contributes to poverty reduction and supports the Mission’s overall development goals.

F2F’s promotion of sustainable agricultural practices and environmental conservation is also relevant to climate change. Climate change poses a significant threat to agricultural productivity, food security, and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. By promoting sustainable practices that minimize greenhouse gas emissions, conserve natural resources, and adapt to changing climatic conditions, F2F-Morocco helps mitigate climate change’s impacts on agriculture. The program also supports the adoption of technologies and practices that increase the resilience of farmers to extreme climate variations.

F2F-Morocco helps to advance the status of women in several ways. First, it provides members of women’s cooperatives with the knowledge and skills needed to boost agricultural productivity and income. This increased income enables women to become more financially independent and further financially contribute to their families and communities. F2F-Morocco helps to increase the participation of women in decision-making related to agriculture. Through training and technical assistance, female cooperative members have been able to gain the confidence and skills they need to participate in meetings and other decision-making forums. This has helped to ensure that women’s voices and perspectives are taken into account in agricultural policies and programs. HAF conducts women’s empowerment workshops (IMAGINE) which enables participants to find confidence in their purpose and goals and is considered one of the most intersectional personal growth trainings available. In addition, HAF aims to strengthen women as rights holders by providing tools to advocate and act upon their needs and goals.

IMAGINE provides a platform for female farmers to voice their needs and participate in decision-making. This increases self-confidence and livelihoods, and contributes to gender equality and social inclusion in the agricultural sector. Testimonials show that women began to see work as a means to feel valued in society and find self-esteem. Women feel more confident about their bodies and inner selves, and, as a result, they speak publicly, work with people outside their immediate circle, and advocate for their needs.

HAF’s F2F program has had a positive impact on education in Morocco by linking the educational programs of the foundation with women’s cooperatives. HAF’s Family Literacy program (funded by the EU) is a community development initiative focused on increasing literacy and improving educational opportunities for rural families. The program is designed to empower women and children through education, with an emphasis on promoting reading and writing skills in the Arabic language. It utilizes a participatory approach, engaging parents and children in the learning process and working with local schools and community members to create a supportive learning environment. By addressing the underlying factors that prevent children and adults from accessing education, such as poverty and lack of resources, the program seeks to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for families in rural areas.

The multifaceted agricultural, women’s empowerment, and educational programs of HAF align with the USAID Mission’s goals of economic growth, good governance, and improved health and education in Morocco. The progress observed from the fruitful partnership of these and other partner organizations illuminates the importance of strengthening vulnerable populations to create a more equitable society.