The High Atlas Foundation is on course for a smashing planting season in Morocco, but we could do even more, and we must do all we can by mid-March.
HAF is dedicated to the ENTIRE agricultural process – from tree nurseries to organic certification of fruit (doubling prices for farmers), to markets and export, and all the training and partnership-building required along the way. The HAF model empowers women and youth associations, entire villages and communes. The projects are the people’s and create revenue streams for new community investments in irrigation, clean drinking water, schools, and business cooperatives.
Two year old walnut trees purchased to be planted in orchards cost about 12 dirhams. HAF community nurseries enable the people to pay only 2 dirhams, and builds the skills of local people, generating local employment. HAF is distributing now 20,000 walnut trees from a 2011 nursery and planting 100,000 more seeds in the Toubkal commune, an ongoing nursery first launched in 2006 in memory of Kate Jeans-Gail, a former Morocco Peace Corps Volunteer. We can do so much more, and we are – planting two other community nurseries in the Al Haouz province, olive orchards and cactus fruit plants in Rhmana, and with 15 rural elementary schools and students – Sami’s Project.
I ask: Who would like to enable new community nurseries in the Ouirika Valley and the Asni and Ouirgane Communes of the High Atlas, and in the Azilal region in the Communes of Ait Mhamed or Ouaouizerth (where the late Ambassador Chris Stevens served as a Peace Corps Volunteer)? HAF-communities can implement them, but loving people and groups need to fund the costs. I am asking essentially: Can we make a far better future for communities by implementing catalyst and formative agricultural projects that are fully economic and environmental? It costs $30,000 per site – for needed irrigation, green houses, training, seeds, etc. We are one push away from planting that millionth seed.
Is there a collective HAF voice out that hears me? The time is now and short, and the course of the future of so many would be so much brighter. I must tell you, it is hard for us all to wait another a year when the people are ready, when potential and the inevitable for shared prosperity are postponed. When entire communities come together and agree on a priority human development need and project, it is time to implement. In the end, it is the young who are trapped, and women without means, and girls laboring, and the well-intentioned without recourse.
HAF is in Morocco to provide a participatory way, and the people have responded, so let’s build it, let the seeds be many, for the love and sake of humanity.
Happy planting wherever that might be,
Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir
High Atlas Foundation