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LET’S PLANT POMEGRANATE TREES IN PARTNERSHIP WITH AL ELEFA CHEESE OF LALLA TAKERKOUST COOPERATIVE IN LALLA TAKERKOUST

Hajiba Boumasmar
HAF Tree Monitoring Officer

On Monday, 20 January, the High Atlas Foundation commemorated the annual day of tree planting when most of the members of the Foundation came out with Moroccan and foreign volunteers to plant organic trees in the various Moroccan provinces: Al-Haouz, Agadir, Youssoufia, Rabat, and Fez. This day saw the distribution of about 11,350 almond, pomegranate and fig trees.
The question arose as to why it took place on that specific day, and the answer is that it is Martin Luther King’s Day, celebrated annually on the third Monday in January. King is best known for his struggle and his call for solidarity and brotherhood between whites and blacks in America. Previously, Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir, the president of the High Atlas Foundation (HAF), has said, “The aim of this day is to improve a spirit of cooperation by planting organic fruit trees and medicinal plants in Morocco.” The symbolism of this annual event is to commemorate King’s mission with the coming together of HAF staff, volunteers, local community members, and others in this same spirit for the betterment of Morocco.
As a member of HAF, I had the good fortune, accompanied by my co-worker, Sanae, to leave my fingerprint on this day by helping to plant 1,000 pomegranate trees produced by the nurseries of the High Atlas Foundation in partnership with Ecosia in Lalla Takerkoust commune.

Headed by Mrs. Naima Al-Asri, Al Elefa Cheese of Lalla Takerkoust Cooperative is the meeting place for farmers and some active youth in the region to work together in solidarity.
I will not say that it was easy to talk with people with more agricultural experience than I, but I told myself that I was representing our foundation in this region. This was no place for fear, and I needed courage and self-confidence to speak and lead the discussion between the attendees. It is really a beautiful feeling.

Indeed, I succeeded in talking about the Foundation and the projects it promotes for sustainable development and to help the fragile, needy villages in Morocco. I spoke in particular about the annual day of afforestation and announced that 1,000 pomegranate trees would be distributed to the farmers of the region on that day.
Before we started planting trees, we loved getting to know more about the cheese cooperative. Mrs. Naima is a saleswoman in the pharmacy and always at the service of the village women, helping. The establishment of a cooperative was the way to ensure a stable income for the nearly 20 widowed and divorced women, a number that is increasing. This cooperative sources milk from seven other cooperatives that specialize in raising 300 goats. Since they are suffering from marketing problems, they are joined by the Farmer-to-Farmer project, which aims to work with these cooperatives and develop them in several areas, including marketing and production.

I also took this opportunity to discuss with them the Imagine workshop that aims to empower women to discover their own capabilities. In fact, that workshop played a big role in enabling me to speak today with courage and without fear in front of people I have just met and assume the task of representing HAF and carrying on the annual day of tree planting.
The partnership between HAF and Ecosia ensures that this year almost 300,000 organic fruit trees will be planted from among the eleven HAF nurseries. The fruit trees include argan, carob, olive, almond, walnut, pomegranate and fig, among others. These nurseries will be working every day toward our target goal of planting almost 1,222,000 trees in all the regions and provinces of Morocco, in partnership with more cooperatives and associations to help farmers. In addition, HAF works with schools to encourage our youth to be faithful and interested to their country.
We have resumed the planting process with the farmers of the region who previously prepared the land and pits for planting. Mr. Hassan Charrouf came back from Casablanca and Mr. Mohamed Abdan came from Safi to learn more about HAF and attend the planting day in Lalla Takerkoust commune. I was very pleased that they have traveled long distances in order to participate in this day. Also, I will not forget their efforts with us in facilitating the process between the nurseries and most of the farmers who benefited from the trees.
Tree planting day on the 20th was a special day for me: I had the opportunity to talk and do what I like to do in this life, to plant trees and help in the development of my country.

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