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Boukidar Farmers Union: Masterful Women in Dairy Farming

byZineb Laadam
onDecember 6, 2023

Boukidar Farmers is a union of dairy farmers formed in 2010 in Boukidar/Al Hoceima, and was, up to the early 2020s, performing well. The group of women has been struggling marketing their products since the closure of the milk factory ''Halib Riff''.

Most of them experienced a decline in active membership, low productivity, low milk intake, low prices, delayed payments, and mismanagement. As a result, most of these women dairy farmers experienced a decline in income. Few women attempt to cross to Spain, while others prefer to stay in Riff region as a second-best option.

The group of women aimed to properly restart their activity and benefit from a training workshop on milk processing techniques rather than selling raw milk.

Boukidar Farmers union benefited first from the self-empowerment training workshop provided by the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) Farmer-To-Farmer (F2F) program, which opened up new horizons for the women to explore ideas and goals they have always wanted to achieve.

On June 16th, the HAF’s F2F team launched the assignment for the benefit of the group of women and assigned a local volunteer to assist them by processing milk and converting it into high-value, concentrated, and easily transportable dairy products with long shelf-lives, such as butter, cheese and ghee.

Seventy members attended the training workshop. They possess priceless local knowledge, including a highly tuned sense of how to manage a farm with a particular agricultural ecosystem.


The HAF’s F2F local volunteer Aouatif with the women of Boukidar farmers union while visiting a model farm to test the quality of milk and compost. Photo Credit: HAF/ F2F

For the successful running of their dairy farm, the local volunteer Ms. Aouatif delivered another training workshop for low-cost dairy management, green/dry fodder production, management of animal health and compost farming specifically.

Almost all of these women dairy farmers, by the nature of what they do, have what it takes to practice composting: surplus plant material, animal manure, access to land, space to compost, equipment already on site, crops and soil that can benefit from a compost amendment...

Some of them use all their own compost on site, while others wanted to professionally practice the on-farm composting and sell it as an additional farm activity.

Thanks to these F2F assignments that offered a new breath to the union to work again, the union gained the trust of the milk company in the North of Morocco, Colainord, which decided to open the factory again and work with them in a new method and promising process.

The activities of Ms.Widyane’s cooperative, named Thouzama, is a successful example to the farmers of the locality and it is expected that other groups may also embark upon such business.

In spite of handling all household chores, Ms.Widyane worked with her husband in order to reach new heights in her family’s business.

She decided to join hands with the local dairy union for the revival of the traditional occupation of her in-laws on a commercial basis with the latest technology through her cooperative.

She is progressive by nature, therefore she took training on ‘’self-empowerment’’ and “milk processing techniques” from the High Atlas Foundation under the Farmer-to- Farmer Program.

After the training, she decided to get funding to add on various facilities, such as a fodder cutting machine, milking machine, and silo pits, considering the increased income from milking animals in the future.

Later on, she prepared a high-tech shed for 50 cows according to the rules and instructions of the dairy department. She replaced old milking animals and bought improved, high-yielding cows. She understood the increasing demand of hygienic milk production, so she adopted a modern milking pipeline parlor with an automatic milk handling facility.

Ms. Widyane also decided to expand her dairy farm and was supported by her husband. She owned 1 hectare of land and took 1 hectare on lease to cultivate green fodder. She bought a fodder harvester to prepare silage by realizing the nutritional requirements of the animal. Now-a-days they have 30 cows and 18 calves, thus producing approximately four quintals of milk which will be supplied by its standards to the collection center in Imzouren municipality for the new producer company.

Ms.Widyane is even planning to produce mozzarella cheese, which does not require daily transportation. She took numerous trainings and technical workshops from the Provincial Agricultural Consulting Office and thus attained a distinctive identity as a dairy farmer in her area in a short period of time. She is a role model for the other farm women in her community.

Last August, during an agricultural seminar in Al Hoceima, Ms. Widyane, the president of Thouzama Cooperative from Boukidar Farmers Union, was honored as a progressive dairy farmer in Al Hoceima.

Processing of dairy products and compost farming gives these small-scale women dairy producers in Al Hoceima province higher cash incomes and offer better opportunities to reach regional and urban markets. Milk processing can also help them to deal with seasonal fluctuations in milk supply.

The dairy and compost farming can benefit entire communities in Al Hoceima province by also generating off-farm jobs in milk collection, transportation, processing, and marketing. Furthermore, the effects of the on-farm composting can improve the function of fine textured clay and silt soils and coarse textured sandy soils in farmers lands in the Boukidar municipality in Al Hoceima province.