January 7, 2021 – “Success stories,” a short phrase but with great meanings. This phrase was said by Errachid Montassir (Project Manager at the High Atlas Foundation) before our departure from the two cooperatives visited today to follow-up with the global Farmer-to-Farmer program.
If you want to discover the stories of Moroccan women’s cooperatives, prepare for yourself a strong and solid ship that will sail you through the seas of that beautiful world. In the midst of this discovery, you will find yourself feeling that you have become a character among the characters of a story.
Perhaps you will find yourself interacting with every word spoken by these women. You may even find yourself crying with joy as one of them cries over the success she has achieved. You write notes to yourself to keep track of all these things you’ve felt and heard.
The first success story: steadfast women, under the banner of the Ghmat Division
Mrs. Aisha Belkern narrates to us the story of the Ghmat Division cooperative, saying: “Our starting point was not from experience, knowledge, or even pre-planning. We were motivated by our desire to achieve something even though we didn’t have much knowledge about how to do it successfully, so we took things as simply as possible. We started work and chose to produce natural honey.” She then continued her words with a smile reflecting hope and victory: “Instead of just a dream, what we aspired became an indispensable activity.”
Mrs. Zahra Boujnawi continues: “Yes, we chose to produce honey despite it being a difficult activity and despite the discouragement we received from many parties, but the empowerment workshop that Mrs. Ibtisam presented to us had a great impact on how we cope with the difficulties, as well as our vision for the future.”
The spontaneous confessions of these women during this meeting show us the success of the empowerment workshop presented by Mrs. Ibtisam Al-Nairi (Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist and Women’s Empowerment Trainer) in 2019 to the women of the Ghmat Division using the Imagine Program framework. In addition, we could see the success of the training presented by Ms. Janet (Farmer-to-Farmer project volunteer) in 2020. We have seen firsthand the commitment to the recommendations she has made – for example, visiting other cooperatives to learn beekeeping, as well as training other cooperatives in operating and sales plans.
These programs have strongly motivated the women of the region, and Mrs. Aisha Shaabi, the head of the cooperative, told us that new members had joined and that successive efforts had been made to provide more tools necessary for the continuation of the cooperative’s activity, such as beehives.
Ms. Aisha added that about 39 kg of natural honey were produced during this year, although it was a difficult year. The cooperative also joined the “Al Haouz Apiaries Association.” Now the women from both groups work together under the banner of the Ghmat Division”.
On the other hand, Mr. Rasheed indicated his pride in what they have achieved, stressing that the Farmer-to-Farmer project will provide other training courses in the future, such as the training that will be organized at the end of the month related to queen bee breeding, in addition to starting preparations for obtaining a food safety certificate.
Participatory approach conversations are a crucial aspect
of helping build a successful cooperative.
The second success story: Aboglo Cooperative
The team moved directly to the Aboglo women’s cooperative of Ourika, which has been active since 2015. It has received many awards and has been the lead participant in many agricultural exhibitions.
Despite the monotony that may hinder any cooperative, it has achieved many successes, and the cooperative’s staff has not stopped taking on more activities. This is clearly evident from the variety of its products, suggesting that the Moroccan cooperative and the women participating are important and that everyone is busy with their work.
After these women welcomed the work team of the Farmer-to-Farmer project, Mrs. Rashida Ochke, the head of the cooperative, began to talk about the cooperative’s recent developments, including restructuring the cooperative’s shop in order to obtain a food safety certificate – the proposal had been accepted by the Regional Directorate of Agriculture in Marrakech before the epidemic, but the cooperative was soon informed that the funding was cancelled in order to spend it on other priorities addressing the Covid pandemic.
But Mrs. Rachida continues her speech with ambition and optimism, discussing the success of the empowerment workshop that she offers to women. Each of the workshops is directly accompanied by the establishment of a new cooperative. Among them is the imaginative training she gave to a group of Tedeli Messiwa women. This shows that the highly motivated Ms. Rachida has not limited her influence only to the Abuoglu cooperative, but that she has gone beyond that, paving the way for other women to form cooperatives and acting as a symbol of giving and a model of success. She is the epitome of a woman acting with constant dynamism.
Zineb Laadam is from Marrakech, Morocco. She was a volunteer with HAF before joining the Farmer-to-Farmer team in 2021 as Field Officer.