By Youssef Mazdou, HAF Program Assistant
Saman and Ms. Kabira plant olive trees in Ftala. Photo: HAF staff
The sun was shining and there was a sense of hope and anticipation that filled the morning of Monday, January 16th. It was the third Monday of January, which is the day the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) celebrates its annual tree planting day by planting different sorts of fruit trees and herbs in all of Morocco. The day was established in 2014 when HAF celebrated planting one million tree seedlings. Since that first tree planting day, HAF has gone on to plant three million more trees with farmers, schools, and community groups, and it currently maintains 15 tree nurseries with local communities in Morocco and partners around the world.
Together with Mr. Larbi, HAF´s agroforestry advisor, Mr. Mohamed, HAF´s financial manager, and Saman, a volunteer from Austria, I visited the two villages–F’tala and Tadmamt in the Asni commune, located in the Al Haouz province, about 60 kilometers away from Marrakech. We were accompanied by Ms. Kabira, the president of the ISHAM Agricultural Cooperative, who drove us through the twists and turns of the road in the mountains which she knew so well.
Filled with optimism, we arrived at F’tala amidst the beautiful landscapes of the High Atlas Mountains and started planting trees. Together with members of the community, we planted approximately 100 olive, 10 fig and 10 pomegranate seedlings. Planting trees plays an important role in counteracting climate change and its consequences, such as erosion and desertification, improving the quality of agricultural lands, and strengthening local cooperatives and the rural economy.
Ms. Kabira, President of the ISHAM agricultural cooperative. Photo: HAF staff
We finished the planting process with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, but our trip was not finished yet as we went on to visit the tree nursery in Tadmamt, which was established in 2012 through a partnership between HAF, the Water and Forests Department, and the United Nations Development Program.
The Tadmamt nursery is picturesque, nestled in the mountains. Three different types of tree saplings are grown there: walnuts, cherries, and almonds. Abdellatif, who is in charge of the nursery, explained that the plants are irrigated with a drip system with water from a large basin nearby. Once the saplings are grown and ready, they are distributed to local farmers and their families and local communities as part of HAF´s tree planting campaign. The Tadmamt nursery represents an ideal environment for trees to flourish and, like the rest of HAF´s tree nurseries, it is continuously monitored by the HAF team.
The sun has set in Tadmamt and HAF´s tree planting day is coming to an end. Today has once again shown how HAF´s continuous work and effort to offer people opportunities to improve their lives and increase the income and social and economic status of marginalized villages is paying off and how planting trees can help achieve that. But perhaps the most important take-away from today is that there continues to be a high demand and a lot of suitable space for the planting of fruit trees in all of Morocco.