The High Atlas Foundation Plants 33,000 Fruit Trees in Rural Morocco

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During the month of February, the High Atlas Foundation and its partners planted 33,000 fruit trees with twenty villages in the Imenane and Azzadene Valleys of Morocco's High Atlas Mountains. This project is a partnership among the High Atlas Foundation, the Global Diversity Foundation, the Association des Amis du CHU, the Province d' Al Haouz, the Marrakech Department of Waters and Forests, the Department of Agriculture for the High Atlas, the Marrakech21 Foundation, Dar Tassa, Kasbah Tamadot, and Kasbah Toubkal.

During the month of February the High Atlas Foundation and its partners planted 33,000 fruit trees (cherry, apple, peach, and quince) with villages in the Imenane and Azzadene Valleys in Morocco's High Atlas Mountains in the Province of Marrakech. Approximately 3,000 people from twenty villages will benefit from this project. This project is a partnership among the High Atlas Foundation, the Global Diversity Foundation, the Association des Amis du CHU, the Province d' Al Haouz, the Marrakech Department of Waters and Forests, the Department of Agriculture for the High Atlas, the Marrakech21 Foundation, Dar Tassa, Kasbah Tamadot, and Kasbah Toubkal. Participants identified the types of trees they wished to receive and this partnership funded the purchase and distribution of them, as well as provided technical training in fruit tree agriculture.

The benefits of fruit tree agriculture are deep and enduring. Household incomes nearly double once trees reach maturity and the fruit is sold at local markets. Cherry trees that are just six years old produce an average of 500 MAD ($65 USD) of fruit per season, forty-two times the initial investment of 12 MAD ($1.55 USD) for the two year old sapling. Beyond the tangible economic benefits, fruit tree planting projects further democratic processes and create diverse partnerships, strengthen the environment, diversify rural economies and help to mitigate urban migration, among other things.

As one beneficiary, Brahim Disaine from the village of Arg in the Imenane Valley, stated, "Fruit trees help our families because we can eventually harvest the fruit and sell it at the souk. We can use the money from the sale of fruit to feed our families, and buy warm clothes and books for our children to go to school. Our main source of income is from fruit trees---this is our way of life."

This ongoing partnership provided 17,000 fruit trees last year and 3,400 in 2006 for villages in these valleys, allowing the planting of 53,400 fruit trees during the past three years. In addition, this partnership supports other socio-economic activities in the region including projects in public health, education, and women's development.

The High Atlas Foundation is a nonprofit organization that works to establish development projects in rural communities of Morocco that local people design and manage, and that are in partnership with government and non-government agencies. It was founded by former Peace Corps Volunteers as a way to use their experience and knowledge gained for the continued benefit of the Moroccan people. Since 2003 the organization has planted approximately 150,000 fruit trees and supports projects in the areas of potable water, irrigation, women's cooperatives, and youth development.

For more information and to view photos of the project please visit: http://www.highatlasfoundation.org.

Advisory Board: H.E. André Azoulay, H.E. Aziz Mekouar, Amb. Edward Gabriel, Thomas Anderson, Abdelghani Aouifia, Kamar Bencrimo, Dr. Charlie Benjamin, Dr. Wahiba Benloughmari, Scott Estergard, Dr. Lahcen Haddad, Dr. Najib Mouhtadi, Ellen Paquette.

Board of Directors: Yossef Ben-Meir (President), Liz Fanning (Vice President), Kate McLetchie (Country Director), Dan Cahill, Kimeo Carr, Mohamed Chbani, Sir Charles Dahan, Michelle Ghiselli, Charlie Kellett, Suzanne Moyer.

Contact: Kate McLetchie, Country Director at (001) 646-688-2946

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