By Hannah Rickard
July 8, 2015
Interns from the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) visit the walnut facility in Asni to learn more about the production process and future plans from manager Hassan Inflass.
Last week, three High Atlas Foundation Interns, Jamal Sebnat, Miranda LaBrash, and Hannah Rickard, grabbed a taxi from the Medina and headed towards the High Atlas Mountains to the city of Asni! While temperatures began to drop, spirits began to rise as the mountains came into view.
Hassan Inflass, the manager of the walnut facility in Asni, with the walnut calibrator machine.
Asni may be small, but it has certainly not been overlooked. Aside form the High Atlas Foundation, various other associations have sprouted up in Asni, many of which share a
common characteristic with HAF: a dedication to working with and improving the lives of rural Moroccan women. HAF though, has considerable comparative advantage: deep-rooted commitment to the rural populations being trained in organic farming. Even after a few minutes of speaking to Hassan Inflass, the current manager of the High Atlas Foundation’s first certified organic walnut processing facility, it is clear that he has embraced this mission. According to Mr. Inflass, the Asni facility has already employed over 40 women, of whom, previously had little to no work at all. Throughout the tour and his interview, Mr. Inflass was keen on telling the interns of his plans to create more jobs at the Asni factory by determining new uses for currently unused resources, such as the leftover walnut casings (post-extraction); given the necessary machinery, this bio waste can be transferred into biomass briquettes and use as a source of renewable energy. He later relayed that a facility in Toubkal for a second product line, almonds, is currently under construction and aims to employ women as well.
Throughout the day and during his interview, Mr. Inflass made sure to emphasize one very important characteristic of the modest facility: other than being HAF’s first facility, the Asni facility is also Morocco’s first organically certified walnut facility! While in the United States, the word “organic” might connote words and phrases like “trendy” and “only for rich people,” organic to rural farmers in Morocco is often described as a golden ticket into the competitively priced world market. HAF’s research shows that famers will make an average of 2.5 times more than they would without the organic certification. In time, farmers will be earning decent wages for their hard word and might I add, delicious products!
The trip to Asni proved to be much more than collecting facts on the fresh, new walnut facility. It is comforting to know that rather than the stereotypical dark, monotonous, assembly-line scene that one might picture, the facility in Asni is run by a community of individuals who deeply care for both one another, as well as the beautiful land that gives way to some seriously well-nurtured gargaa!
Learn more at https://www.highatlasfoundation.org
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