Empowering Communities: 2 New Rural Cooperatives Promoting Local Products
BY YOUSSEF ROCHDANE, TRANSLATOR AND CONTENT WRITER
13 July 2023
Photos by COOPERATIVE TAYTMATE AND COOPERATIVE IMIRI
This is the story of two cooperatives who recently joined us as part of the High Atlas Cultural Landscapes (HACL) programme. Cooperative Taytmate and Cooperative Imiri have set an example of the importance of dedication and perseverance, and how impactful setting up a cooperative in rural regions can be.
In a remote region like Timoulyte in Azilal, life can be quite challenging with no job opportunities and poor living conditions. The people of Timoulyte were barely making ends meet, but their wish for a better future and their willingness to create change fuelled their ambition. After several failed attempts in starting various projects to breed and sell livestock, a group of villagers decided to promote a product known in their region, olives—Timoulyte is well known for its abundance of olive trees—and help it flourish. Their determination and hard work paved the way to becoming one of the most successful olive cooperatives in Morocco.
Cooperative Taytmate has done it all, from building their own local store and office to finding creative ways to sell their products in markets and local exhibitions. All the members believe in one thing: slow and steady wins the race. With only 16 members, they have shown remarkable resilience and willingness to achieve their goals. Now, Cooperative Taytmate has 20 members, 15 are women. “Our main goal is to promote our local products and make our region known for its agricultural gifts and goods,” said Fatiha Mabroki, a member of the cooperative. “Our clients know how hard we work and the effort we put into producing the best olives and olive oil. That is why they always come back to us and ask if we have any new varieties of oils and olives that they can try”.
It is safe to say that in the case of Cooperative Taytmate, perseverance pays off! Members from the cooperative have participated in national and international exhibitions of organic products and got to visit countries around the world like Switzerland, Tunisia, France, Germany and the UAE. They have also been awarded gold medals in many competitions for the best local products in Morocco and abroad.
The journey does not stop for Cooperative Taytmate. With the success they have achieved, their vision has broadened and their goals expanded. They are currently working on reaching the international market by exporting their products and becoming a Morocco-based international cooperative that showcases the quality of Moroccan olives and olive oil, as well as promoting the goods of Timoulyte in Azilal.
After years of doubt and hesitation, a group of villagers from Douar Souk El Hed in the Commune of Ait Melil, Azilal established the first cooperative in the region with a vision to improve the quality of life in their village and expand the variety of local organic products. Being a self-funded cooperative, their journey has not been easy. However, bearing the fruits of their hard work has been nothing but rewarding. Cooperative Imiri started from producing and selling only one product to offering a variety of goods like almonds, saffron, walnut, parsnip, timija (apple mint), Breckland thyme, mugwort and prune.
They have indeed started small, but their eagerness to achieve great things motivated them not only to become better at what they do but also to inspire other villagers. Now everything is different as they guide each other whenever needed. They even helped a group of inspiring women create their own cooperative, a cooperative that has gone on to do great things since its inception. “We know that it’s a long process that requires a lot of patience. We have achieved so much and we are eager to do more,” said Rachid El Yousefy, the cooperative president.
Being in a remote region can have many challenges, but the members of this cooperative used this to their advantage. Living in a remote area means being far from all the pollution. This has helped them harvest ecological products, thus attracting more consumers to purchase their goods. Their long-term goal is to make all the products they sell from scratch. For them, learning is an everlasting process. They continue to broaden their knowledge about the benefits of all the ingredients they use and each product they offer to recommend the right ones based on their customers’ needs. Cooperative Imiri is currently trying to get the needed food safety certifications that will allow its members to participate in national markets and exhibitions of organic products, and hopefully export and display them internationally.
“We know that it’s a long process that requires a lot of patience. We have achieved so much and we are eager to do more.”
~ Rachid El Yousefy, cooperative president.
The results these cooperatives have achieved are inspiring to say the least. They are going above and beyond to improve the quality of life in their region by promoting their local goods, helping children dream big by advocating for the importance of education in remote areas and empowering women by breaking tradition and improving their skills all while staying true to their values. It is an honour to work with such cooperatives and provide the support they need to reach their goals and improve their livelihoods in their regions.
Stay tuned for more stories about the new cooperatives who join us to read about their incredible journey and their work within the High Atlas Mountains and around Morocco as part of our HACL programme.