HAF’S “HARVEST EXPEDITION”
TO SECURE ORGANIC CERTIFICATION AND EXPORT ALMONDS AND WALNUTS FROM THE HIGH ATLAS MOUNTAINS OF MOROCCO
September 7th – 14th, 2012
From September 7th-14th 2012, the High Atlas Foundation’s project staff, nut specialists and entrepreneurs Mike Mellace and Tony Bagato, photographer Terry Munson, and a technician from Morocco’s Ministry of Agriculture embarked on an Expedition during when almonds and walnuts are harvested in the High Atlas Mountains. The sites are the Rural Communes of Asni, Ouirgane, and Toubkal in the Al Haouz and Taroudant provinces. The weeklong trip also included visits to Rabat and Casablanca to meet prospective and current government and nongovernment partners to support this project.
The visit with the rural communities enabled assessing the needed modifications in agricultural practices and processing procedures that are needed in order for family farmers to gain organic certification for their almonds and walnuts. Furthermore, the Expedition gave the opportunity to develop the design and content for community training programs to build the needed skills related to organic farming and providing consumer ready products.
In addition to meeting the Governor of the Al Haouz province along with relevant regional ministerial counterparts, the meetings in Rabat and Casablanca were with the Embassy of Japan; the United States Agency for International Development; the Faculty of Law, Economics, and Social Science at Hassan II University; and the Port of Casablanca. HAF is so very grateful to be a finalist for a grant from the Alliance for Global Good, which would support the process to secure organic certification of High Atlas almonds and walnuts for the benefit of rural families.
Certified organic nuts have double the economic value for Moroccan farming families, and through HAF the farmers will be connected directly to international purchasers of their product. This project will guarantee for farming families the purchase of their nuts at this higher value and also create a new revenue stream for HAF by providing this service to the communities of the Toubkal commune, and beyond (there are ten such communes in the High Atlas Mountains that will next be targeted by this project). In addition to tree nurseries, the new revenue stream will support HAF’s community projects in irrigation, clean drinking water, women and youth development, and experiential training programs.
This project will enable HAF to complete the agricultural development cycle by facilitating the export of their product. HAF and its community partners planted 458,492 trees, toward their goal to plant 1 Million Trees. Please also visit HAF’s PowerPoint of the tree planting campaign, including their 2013 goals.