In partnership with National Endowment for Democracy, the High Atlas Foundation seeks to meet the critical needs ofagricultural associations and cooperatives of the Al Haouz and Taroudant provinces. Creating federations is an important step towards achieving this goal, because it is an effective approach to break the cycle of poverty and build democratic processes in the region. HAF will work with the locally elected women trained during the former NED project and agriculturalist technically trained by HAF in partnership with MCC-APP to further build their skills and enable them to pursue their socioeconomic interests related to organic agricultural production and business development. They will then transfer those skills to the population of the two provinces to create two agricultural federations dedicated to organic practices.
On 7 December 2013, HAF hosted a full day workshop entitled Organic Cultivation and Community Development led by Latifa Mehdi, an agricultural expert. Eight people from 6 municipalities, or communes, and three Peace Corps Volunteers attended the workshop.The purpose was to bring together the participants to share knowledge about organic cultivation, commercialization of fruit, value added initiatives, and reinvestment of net profits.
We began with an overview by HAF’s vice president Mr.Larbi Didoquen about the mission of the foundation and HAF’s participatory approach to development. HAF’s team then gave the participants an overview of the agricultural project, its importance, and the long-term impact on the sustainable development of rural communities. In this regard, the participants expressed and shared stories of exciting past projects with HAF in sustainable development with their communities.
Men and Women’s Maps
Main points of discussion
During the workshop, activities were conducted in interactive small groups in addition to larger group discussions. Participants spoke about the lack of policy to protect both the customer and the farmer in regard to agricultural production. According the trainees, in the domestic marketplace organic produce is typically sold for less than produce grown conventionally, causing economic hardship for organic farmers. Moreover, it is very difficult for organic farmers to raise enough funds to pay for the official organic certification.
The main products in both Al Haouz and Taroudant Province are walnuts, almonds, olives and apples. The regions lack cooperatives that are actives in this domain. In addition, another challenge farming families face is the reliance on intermediaries in the marketplace because they regularly raise prices, causing the family farmers to lose out on profit.
Some of the conclusion that came out of this workshop day is the trainees understand the importance of creating federations that can bring them together to advocate and create a better future. The participants are building skills to break the cycle of poverty in the region and to maintain a good sustainable livelihood. However, this would not have been possible without the support of the community members, who encourage the establishment of a union for socio-economic, health and environmental development. To make this happen, HAF, in partnership with NED, is committed to sustainable and human development that King HM Mohammed VI strongly advocates and supports for the nation.