• AIT BEN HADDOU PART#2 – ENCOUNTER WITH LOUBNA AND HICHAM, ENGAGED IN RURAL AREAS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPPEMENT

    Read Ait Ben Haddou Part#1 - An edible forest part of a sustainable plan for the village’s future Half an hour later, we are comfortably seating in Loubna and Hicham’s house around a cup of coffee, while the cat and the dog are playing their best tricks to take part in the discussion. We have so many questions to ask that we don’t even know where to start! Let’s keep things simple and pick up from the beginning… How did this incredible adventure start? #gallery-1 { margin: auto; } #gallery-1 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 100%; } #gallery-1 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-1 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ Ait Ben Haddou – Morocco – Read the article #gallery-2 { margin: auto; } #gallery-2 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 50%; } #gallery-2 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-2 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ Ait Ben Haddou – Morocco – Read the article Ait Ben Haddou – Morocco – Read the article Ait Ben Haddou – Morocco – Read the article Ait Ben Haddou – Morocco – Read the article Ait Ben Haddou – Morocco – Read the article Ait Ben Haddou – Morocco – Read the article Ait Ben Haddou – Morocco – Read the article Ait Ben Haddou – Morocco – Read the article Back to the roots « I asked my mother, tell me where I’m from. She answered that first, she would need to know where she was from! » Loubna « Many people have a vision, but very few have the willpower to implement it. Loubna and Hicham are one of those. » Mohamed told us when talking about them for the first time. They’re both airline pilots, a pretty impressive deed in it itself, and have a successful career, but this is far from being the only thing that defines them. For it is actually an opportunity to work on behalf of their vision, to engage their expertise in achieving something good.  Loubna explains that both of them were always involved in charities, principally with orphanages, but that everything changed three years ago when she felt the need to go back to her roots. That meant finding out about Ait Ben Haddou’s history, the village her family is coming from, and to which she is particularly attached even though she never lived there.  « I asked my mother, tell me where I’m from. She answered that first, she would need to know where she was from! » Loubna says. Thus started a pilgrimage in Ait Ben Haddou, first with her mother to meet with the elders, witnesses and carriers of an oral tradition as rich as it is fragile.  So on they went and met with a berber poetess, who recited the traditional poem used to welcome strangers. « It has been an eternity that I was waiting for you, that my salute longed for your salute » recalls Louna. A moment suspended in time, that made her heart sing and her soul shiver… The next day they found themselves immersed in Ait Ben Haddou’s history through the tales of a century-old man, who for an afternoon shared some memories, legends, stories and other anecdotes. An incredibly rich and relatively recent history that neither Loubna nor her mother new anything about. « This is when I realised that there had been a disruption in the oral transmission » explains Loubna.  « I don’t know how these walls can live again, but they must. » Loubna A month later, Loubna goes  back with her father, this time to meet with the ksar walls. The ancient berber fortress, though very touristic, is nevertheless neglected and falling apart. During the visit she was assailed with an intense flow of emotions and thought « I don’t know how these walls can live again, but they must. ». « It was a certainty, an obvious fact » she says.  #gallery-3 { margin: auto; } #gallery-3 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 100%; } #gallery-3 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-3 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ Ait Ben Haddou – Morocco – Read the article A place rich in history of which the identity is still threatened by mass tourism Ait Ben Haddou is a place steeped in a powerful history, of which the ksar reflects the memory. Built during the 11th century, it is a true berber fortress with defensive walls and corner towers, that was home to a 36 jewish and muslim families community. This inheritance offers a precious glimpse of ancestral building technics in southern Morocco, always tending towards the best possible integration in this very specific environnement, and nevertheless replaced little by little with more « modern » materials.  In 1937, following a severe drought episode, men and women started to leave their fields to find work in the mines, thus provoking the traditional subsistence agriculture’s progressive disappearance.  But the walls remain, somehow, and from the place radiates an energy that inspired numerous artists, like the painter Majorelle who captured his vision of the village in 1929. Starting from 1960, the cinema comes in and Ait Ben Haddou becomes the set for movies like Lawrence d’Arabie, Babel, Gladiator and even the Game of Thrones TV show more recently. #gallery-4 { margin: auto; } #gallery-4 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 100%; } #gallery-4 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-4 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ Ait Ben Haddou – Morocco – Read the article – Source : https://bit.ly/2KdhJm1 Ait Ben Haddou’s ksar, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987, welcomes ever since hundreds of visitors everyday. But so far the way tourism has expended doesn’t impact on local economy, since it is mainly based on a day formula, bringing tourists in buses from Marrakech or Ouarzazate to take them back just a few hours later. How then can they feel what is so special about this place? We had the exact same experience since we find all of this out from Loubna and Hicham when we were there just a few days ago… Lesson learned.  Also, how then can its inhabitants find their place in the village’s present life? It is Loubna’s father, Ahmed Mouna, who will give them back a voice, creating with them the non-profit Ait Aissa named after the oldest tribe who lived in the ksar. His goal, accompanying the villagers towards a sustainable and dignifying development. His means, working on electrification, clean water and care access, and creating a daycare and a school. We Speak Citizen, the birth of a citizen collective « We come from the city, from another world. We couldn’t just come in and say, here, we will give you a model and it will work. » Hicham Loubna and Hicham are convinced of it, the development model must be rethought through and it is the villagers themselves that hold the solutions. « We come from the city, from another world. We couldn’t just come in and say, here, we will give you a model and it will work. » Hicham explains. And one question came up. How could they be supported in achieving what they wanted? For what Loubna and Hicham were trying to do was to offer them an opportunity to think about their own future, and that what makes this project so strong and coherent today! The first step, and almost the biggest according to Hicham, was to lead them to express their yearnings. « We had to take our time, because we rapidly understood that there was a big difference between what they were saying and what they wanted to say » Hicham continues. Education, cultural heritage preservation and promotion, tourism, agriculture… Together, first with the non-profit Ait Aissa’s members and later with the entire village, they elaborated and assembled brick by brick the elements constituting a new basis for their future. « We didn’t bring any vision, we accompanied them to find their own » concludes Loubna.  « It is, somehow, a translation platform between the rural language and the one from the city. For we all speak the citizen language. » Hicham And so the idea of We Speak Citizen was born, a citizen collective allowing to appeal to external know-how (urbanism, agroecology, marketing, etc) to rehabilitate Ait Ben Haddou, a rural area, in a vision setting the past and the future in the present. « It is, somehow, a translation platform between the rural language and the one from the city. For we all speak the citizen language. » says Hicham. #gallery-5 { margin: auto; } #gallery-5 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 100%; } #gallery-5 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-5 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ Ait Ben Haddou – Morocco – Read the article An admirable view for ambitious goals « We gave ourselves ten years to set a fully functional and sustainable ecosystem up » Loubna But Loubna and Hicham’s vision, through their commitment within the We Speak Citizen collective, goes way further. Because the goal, beyond Ait Ben Haddou’s rehabilitation, is to offer a duplicable concept, to envision a truly fair and sustainable development model for rural areas. Thus, Ait Ben Haddou is kind of an idea incubator, a pilot project that will facilitate new social patterns to emerge, hence giving each territory’s social and cultural heritage new prospects for the future.   « We gave ourselves ten years to set up a fully functional and sustainable ecosystem » Loubna explains us. After that, the ambition is to duplicate the process in other rural areas, in the southeastern Morocco first, then in other places in the country and why not even abroad. « Let’s say that nowadays, it is during our free time that we are airline pilots! » Hicham In their minds it is crystal clear, this project took an essential place in their lives, but also in their life as a couple. It is a commitment they took on with the most serious, aware of what was at stake and of the level of personal investment it would require. « Today it became our life project » confides Loubna, and Hicham to add with humour « Let’s say that nowadays, it is during our free time that we are airline pilots! ». But what pushes them to go on, over all, is the change they witnessed in the people who are now leading the project, that’s to say everyone living in Ait Ben Haddou. For despite the resistance manifested at first, they took on the opportunity that was offered to make their voice matter to shape their own future…   ---------- ---------- ---------- This courageous action from men and women who decided to take their fate and their lives into their own hands is making Loubna and Hicham particularly proud, and is giving them the will to share their experience. Which is a chance for us, because together they gave a whole new dimension to words like commitment, fair and sustainable and we are so grateful to have crossed their path. « Talking about what we do can offer new prospectives to people, can tell them that it is possible » says Loubna. And we also believe that sharing is the key, a chance to highlight beautiful initiatives that give hope for our future…   Contact AIT AISSA Facebook: @Assoaitaissa E-mail: asso.ait.aissa@gmail.com   Contact WE SPEAK CITIZEN Website: http://www.wespeakcitizen.org/ Facebook: @WeSpeakCitizen E-mail: contact@wespeakcitizen.org  

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  • AIT BEN HADDOU PART#1 – AN EDIBLE FOREST PART OF A SUSTAINABLE PLAN FOR THE VILLAGE’S FUTURE

    After our encounter with Mohamed Aglagane and the saharan yellow bee, we’re now heading for Ait Ben Haddou, a village close by the mythic Ouarzazate, nested in the High Atlas foothills. There we have a meeting scheduled with Mohamed’s friend, Loubna, who has the fantastic ambition to create and grow an edible forest, the Wild Seeds Forest… And whose vision and commitment go much further, as we’re about to find out! Rendez-vous in Ait Ben Haddou Arriving in Ait Ben Haddou, we meet with Mohamed and his family who also came to visit the Wild Seeds Forest’s team and learn about their work. Lounbna won’t be able to come today after all, but she’s inviting us to come to Casablanca where she lives with her husband, Hicham. Which is perfect since we already have a meeting there with Mr Yaacoubi, a specialist in agrohomeopathy! So today it’s down to Abdallah and his team to welcome us. They are farmers and members of the local association Ait Aissa and just a few days ago, with Ralph’s help - a German agronomist - they launched the first tests for the plantation of the future forest. We leave our home on wheels behind and jump in with them to go and check it out. Some fifteen minutes later, « it is much faster on foot » says Ralph with a blink, we arrive on site… We have crossed the Mellah oued (which means salty river) and are now two kilometres away from the village in a completely barren area, at least at first sight. Looking closer, we can actually make out the few frail and young trees newly planted and fenced against the goats, that would otherwise eat everything on their way. Abdallah tells us that this is the first experimentation that will allow them to understand the land better, in order to be successful when planting the 40 hectares forest. #gallery-6 { margin: auto; } #gallery-6 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 100%; } #gallery-6 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-6 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ Ait Ben Haddou – Morocco – Read the article #gallery-7 { margin: auto; } #gallery-7 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 100%; } #gallery-7 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-7 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ Ait Ben Haddou – Morocco – Read the article #gallery-8 { margin: auto; } #gallery-8 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 50%; } #gallery-8 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-8 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ Ait Ben Haddou – Morocco – Read the article Ait Ben Haddou – Morocco – Read the article Ait Ben Haddou valley – Morocco – Read the article In that regard, they started with some of the best suited species to survive in this environment. They chose them, among other things, for their ability to repair or prepare the soil for other targeted species (like fruit trees), for exemple by absorbing salt. For fresh water is a rarity here, and that running down from the mountains is absorbing salt as it flows (a phenomenon possibly due to the presence of old salt mines upstream). We discovered that very fact recently when using river water to make tea… Very bad idea indeed!! Thus the water available is found deep in the ground - but in limited quantity - and high in the sky. They will focus on the latter, setting up mini dams around the forest in order to collect and store water coming from the rains. In the meantime, each tree foot is covered with mulch, acting as a sponge by retaining moisture and therefore limiting watering to once every two or three weeks! « This is a multiple lifetimes project » Abdallah The challenge is huge, especially because of the rocky and extremely dry soil that makes the work harder. « You cannot imagine how difficult it is to simply dig a hole in these conditions » adds Ralph. But it is worth it, for soon there should be a forest here, able to produce enough fruits and veggies for the hole community to consume and use for a Garden Restaurant project, where people will be ale to seat in the middle of the gardens and forest and eat freshly collected products. « This is a multiple lifetimes project » explains Abdallah, while we’re heading back to the village through his permaculture garden. And in our minds, we already know we will have to come back to see the evolution of the Wild Seeds Forest… #gallery-9 { margin: auto; } #gallery-9 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 100%; } #gallery-9 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-9 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ Ait Ben Haddou – Morocco – Read the article #gallery-10 { margin: auto; } #gallery-10 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 50%; } #gallery-10 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-10 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ Ait Ben Haddou – Morocco – Read the article Ait Ben Haddou – Morocco – Read the article Ait Ben Haddou – Morocco – Read the article Ait Ben Haddou – Morocco – Read the article Summit-level meeting for Ait Ben Haddou’s sustainable development plan Astonished by the scale of the project led in Ait Ben Haddou, we now wish to know more about the people who made it possible. A few days later (for we are quite slow on the road), Loubna gives us a rendez-vous in Casablanca, in a coworking space dedicated to support social and solidarity economy projects. We land in the middle of an animated reunion, led by four determined students arguing their presentation point by point in front of Loubna and Hicham, founders of the We Speak Citizen collective, and its treasurer Hassan. The slide projected on the wall speaks of solidarity market, legal structure and governance… To understand, rewinding is needed. Marie, Camille, Peggy and Zakaria are now studying in Rabat and working on social entrepreneurship projects in Africa. For their final year mission and essay,  they were - sort of - hired by We Speak Citizen to evaluate the feasibility (it seems quite ok!) and set up a proper business plan for Ait Ben Haddou’s solidarity and social tourism development plan. #gallery-11 { margin: auto; } #gallery-11 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 100%; } #gallery-11 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-11 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ Ait Ben Haddou – Morocco – Read the article Thus Marie rewinds for us, and comes back to the presentation’s beginning. And we realise that we actually only had a small glimpse of the project in its hole. For it is the entire value chain that has been rethought here, the result of a vision that goes way beyond the « simple » plantation of a food forest… An innovative concept for a homestay experience, the redefinition of each village’s proper identity in the valley, a solidarity market to promote the local production, the creation of a food forest… All of it thought through and supported by the village’s inhabitants, which is this initiative’s true strength!   ---------- ---------- ---------- The meeting goes on for a long time, each point meticulously studied. We are impressed by the objectives held here, and buy the amount of work this incredible team has put in… After sharing a delicious couscous with everybody, Loubna and Hicham invite us to continue the discussion at their place around a coffee. No need to say that we gladly accept! Part#2 coming up soon 🙂   Contact Wild Seeds Forest  Localisation: Ait Ben Haddou, Ouarzazate region, Morocco Website: www.lesgrainessauvages.org E-mail: contact@lesgrainessauvages.org   Contact Ait Aissa Facebook: @Assoaitaissa E-mail: asso.ait.aissa@gmail.com  

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  • ENCOUNTER WITH MOHAMED AGLAGANE, A BEEKEEPER COMMITTED TO THE SAHARAN YELLOW BEE CONSERVATION

    We’re in Skoura, a small town located in the Atlas foothills, at the Sahara gates. Our research on the saharan yellow bee conservation efforts have led us to Sawadi (read the article), an ecolodge run by people who sheltered several control hives. They were the ones to put us in touch Mohamed Aglagane, former President of the Albisher organzation, to which this ambitious project owes its existence.   Mohamed, a desert philosopher We meet Mohamed one evening after school, for in addition to being a beekeeper, he’s also a school teacher. We seat around the traditional mint tea and discover a man full of will and passion. « Saving the yellow bee is a loooooong term job! » he tells us with a sigh. But a hard work that is worth it, so much of a symbol of hope is this bee in an environment only getting tougher and tougher. Keeper of the ancestral knowledge linking Men and Nature, she is also the guardian of the unique biodiversity that makes this arid, but very resourceful area, so rich. « I could’t just sit there and watch, so I started to learn. » Mohamed Mohamed became a beekeeper ten years ago, when he realised that this very special bee was to simply disappear if nothing was done. « I could’t just sit there and watch, so I started to learn » he tells us. With the help and the support of numerous organisation and people*, Mohamed launches the non profit organisation Albisher, in order to support the conservation project. He is also involved in raising five sons, to whom he teaches that you have to reconnect to nature, not go against. His philosophy is full of wisdom and pushed him into exploring the technics of traditional medicine and homeopathy, that he now uses in his job, as well as his everyday life… HOW TO NATURALLY TREAT AGAINST VARROA? « Do you know about the principle of analogy? » he starts. It is one of the fundamental principles of homeopathy, that says that for similar afflictions, you can use the same remedy. For exemple, to treat the varroa, which is kind of the bee lice, one can use Staphysagria, a remedy issued from a plant called the lice plant growing in the Mediterranean area. He also mentions that it is what the elders used to employ, a method Albisher tested when working in Skoura with Homeopaths Without Borders to treat the almond tree aphids… *The Regional Office for Agricultural Valorisation in Ouarzazate, of which Mr Mohamed Benidir is responsible for the livestock services; The Science Faculty of Semlalia in Marrakech, from which Mr Ahmed Ouhammou, a botanist, helped a lot on the project; The Beekeeping Technics Studies Center of Moselle, of which Paul Schweitzer is the ecological laboratory director; The Regional Beekeeping Sanitary Organisms National Federation in France, of which Louis Pister is the administrator and organised and held a lot of beekeeping training cessions for Albisher; The Interprofessional Moroccan Beekeeping Federation, of which Mr M’hammed Aboulal is the President; The French Embassy in Morocco; The French Foundation; And the Algerian Beekeeping Organisations Federation, of which Mahmoud Lakhal is the President. #gallery-12 { margin: auto; } #gallery-12 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 50%; } #gallery-12 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-12 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ Sawadi – Skoura – Morocco – Read the article Sawadi – Skoura – Morocco – Read the article He now wishes to share a little experiment with us. He puts a big spoon full of honey in a soup plate, and lightly flattens it out with the back of the spoon. He then adds a little water on top of it, and slowly moves the plate in circles for a few seconds. We’re asked to look into it and to tell him what we observe. To our greatest surprise, the surface of the honey is recreating a perfectly sized honeycomb pattern. We can’t believe what our eyes are telling us. He explains that it is a way to differentiate real honey (from nectar) from fake honey (from sugar), and that it is called the water memory… Ok… We’re all ears. The yellow bee and her challenge for survival In this barren environment located between the High Atlas mountains and the Sahara at the altitude of 1200 metres, the rocky landscapes seem deserted. Yet, they hold a secret. Watching closer, an extraordinary diversity of plants lies here, with an abundance of species specially adapted for these extreme conditions. The vegetation generally stays small, displaying thorns, a limited leaf surface to avoid evapotranspiration, and small flowers with shallow honey wells. #gallery-13 { margin: auto; } #gallery-13 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 100%; } #gallery-13 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-13 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ Western Sahara – Morocco – Read the article « You cannot do better than nature, The best you can do is to protect it, just like these bees, so perfectly adapted to their area’s climate. » Mohamed Mohamed says that it is because of this difficult climate that the yellow bee, or Apis mellifera sahariensis, is so remarkable. « You cannot do better than nature. The best you can do is to protect it, just like these bees, so perfectly adapted to their area’s climate » he explains. Her tongue is smaller than the other bees, giving her access to smaller flowers, she can gather pollen up until seven kilometres from her hive, against just three for the others, and she’s also capable of regulating her colony numbers depending on the food availability to ensure survival. A fascinating demonstration of adaptability, topped up by the fact that she has a very gentle behaviour… Making her a perfect companion for beekeepers! #gallery-14 { margin: auto; } #gallery-14 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 100%; } #gallery-14 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-14 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ Anti Atlas – Morocco – Read the article Nevertheless, her survival is threatened. Her existence was seriously compromised by the massive spraying of insecticide to fight the destructive cricket plagues and her population, although resistant, has become alarmingly low on numbers.  The bees are here in great numbers, but they are all almost black. « That’s because of the transhumance, and also the beekeepers buying black bees hives to replace the ones lost because of spraying » Mohamed explains. The beekeepers from the north and the west of the country work with black bees (called tellienne bee) because they are today easier to find, and move their hives following the flowerings. The yellow queens will meet with the black drones, and the genetic dilution will start, leading to the disappearance of the first ones. To find trace of the yellow bee, one now has to go deep into the Atlas valleys away from the transhumance areas, where a traditional beekeeping is still practiced. Comparison between a yellow bee and a black bee, also called tellienne bee #gallery-15 { margin: auto; } #gallery-15 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 100%; } #gallery-15 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-15 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ Anti Atlas – Morocco – Read the article Anti Atlas – Morocco – Read the article The honey memory « Someone one day said that this village holds the hives in its hands » Mohamed The next day Mohamed takes us into the yellow bee realm, in the heart of the High Atlas mountains. We’re heading to the berber village of Tagragra, where the community troglodyte apiary is still tend to according to ancestral techniques. « Someone one day said that this village holds the hives in its hands » he says when arriving at the foot of the hives, carved directly into the rocky wall a few meters away from the houses. #gallery-16 { margin: auto; } #gallery-16 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 100%; } #gallery-16 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-16 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ High Atlas – Morocco – Read the article Tagragra – High Atlas – Morocco – Read the article The hives, of which the front facing us is sealed, are made of two distinct parts, partially divided by an inside partition. On one side are the queen and the brood, with the exit hole, and on the other side is the equivalent of the top box, where the honey is collected. #gallery-17 { margin: auto; } #gallery-17 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 100%; } #gallery-17 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-17 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ Tagragra – High Atlas – Morocco – Read the article Tagragra – High Atlas – Morocco – Read the article « The work for the yellow bee conservation starts here, it’s tradition helping modernity! » Mohamed, quoting one of his friends, Paul Schweitzer In here, tradition is queen and the bees are an integral part of the family. Quoted in the Coran as good for the health, honey is one of the main ingredients in cooking, as well as in medicine. The women, often in charge of the bees, also learned how to use their venom to heal humans and animals. To treat a cyst on livestock for exemple, they use the bee to sting into the cyst, then empty the abscess that the sting helped to burst, and after that fill the wound up with honey to ensure disinfection and healing… They also use the venom against leishmaniasis, scorpion stings, migraine, eczema, and sore throat. And it also seems that honey is the best cure for haemorrhoids! « The work for the yellow bee conservation starts here, it’s tradition helping modernity! » Mohamed says, quoting one his friends Paul Schweitzer. Because it’s in here, in the depth of the Atlas mountains, that they will find the yellow queens that will repopulate the colonies in the valleys and palm groves such as Skoura’s one. #gallery-18 { margin: auto; } #gallery-18 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 100%; } #gallery-18 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-18 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ Tagragra – High Atlas – Morocco – Read the article #gallery-19 { margin: auto; } #gallery-19 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 50%; } #gallery-19 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-19 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ Tagragra – High Atlas – Morocco – Read the article Tagragra – High Atlas – Morocco – Read the article Tagragra – High Atlas – Morocco – Read the article The challenge, rearing yellow queens The process isn’t simple and requires time and attention. To sum up, the idea is to collect yellow queens brood in the remote mountain valleys, where the breed is the purest, and then to use it to raise new yellow queens that will replace the black ones in the targeted hives. Little by little, restraining drastically the presence of black drones, the yellow bees will eventually take over the black ones. But like Mohamed said in the beginning, it’s a long term hard work requiring full involvement. Yet the goal is worth every drop of sweat of it, and that’s why the non profit organisation Albisher, of which he is the spokesman, offers motivated young people beekeeping training courses. And the yellow bee is the perfect candidate, for she also offers, among all her other qualities, a far better efficiency regarding the actual average five kilos… That’s what we like to call a win/win situation! The organisation is by the way always looking for volunteers ready to share their knowledge. So if you know your way around bees and queen rearing, and have some time to offer, get in touch with Mohamed! Back from this expedition in the mountains, we’re invited to share the traditional Friday couscous. Between two couscous balls, he tells us that he has a surprise for us… He contacted two of his friends, involved in a food forest plantation in the desert, and another of his friends, practising homeopathy for plants, so we could meet them! Seeing our stunned faces, he adds with all the restraint and wiseness that defines him « I’m only giving nice flowers to forage upon ». We now know our next destinations! Thank you Mohamed. We came to learn more about the saharan yellow bee, et we now go knowing that we only picked one sand grain up… Contact ALBISHER Localisation: Skoura, Ouarzazate Province, Morocco E-mail: associalbisher@live.fr

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  • ENCOUNTER WITH PHILIPPE OUAKI DI GIORNO, INGENIOUS INVENTOR – MEKNES

    Enchanted break on the road After our encounter with Aziz and his family, we’re back on the road towards Meknes, for a meeting we’re quite excited about! Yet we stop just a few kilometres after, intrigued by a big nest in which we can clearly see a stork. They’re everywhere since we arrived in the south of Spain, but for the first time we have a view form above. The road is higher here but they usually nest on high electric poles or at the minarets’ top. We climb the hill beside us to get a better view, armed with our spotting scope and camera, and find out that the stork is actually brooding four babies, all grey and fluffy… In awe of the scene , we observe the family trough the spotting scope when what we suppose to be the father lands at the edge of nest. It’s time for feeding, and we feel particularly privileged to be here in this moment. It’s a good time to try to set our camera up onto the spotting scope… Well that’s gonna take us some time to figure out, given the blur images we got 😉   Arriving in Meknes We came here in Meknes to meet with Philippe Ouaki Di Giorno, an engineer who developed a moisture-binding polymer that could be used to grow plants even in the desert. We had discovered the man and his invention through an interview given by a French journalist (Frederic Lopez - you can watch the interview here though it’s in french) and had been seduced by his speech and determined personality. This meeting wasn’t suppose to happen though. We were in contact with one of his collaborators, Saber, whom we initially planned to meet with in Casablanca. The offer to meet them here came from him, for he would be accompanied with Philippe to attend the SIAM, an International agricultural fair. A rare opportunity and it is thus a little intimidated that we drive along the fortified walls surrounding the medina to get to the agreed meeting point, some parking lot by the fair main entrance. They’ll get there a few minutes after we do, accompanied with Philippe’s daughter, who’s a student in corporate communication. After the introductions, Saber goes on a mission to get their badges while we get acquainted with Philippe. He is most intrigued by our adventure and what led us to it, and he happily answer his questions before asking the one that burns our lips… What is this invention all about, and who’s the man behind it?   The encounter  Philippe is an agronomist with a passion for plants and their dynamics, who developed an organic component able to retain up to 500 times (usually between 120 to 300 times) it’s volume of water, to be distributed to plant when it actually needs it. The amount of water needed is therefore drastically reduced (down by 97%), for every drop now counts. But in truth it goes way deeper! According to Philippe (and that’s the moment I regret not recording the conversation, for we don’t know it yet, but we won’t see him again) the polymer will eventually blend with the plant’s root system and allow it to grow beyond it’s latent potential, usually never reached because of the stress induced by normal conditions (humidity, temperatures, etc). Philippe even mentions some kind of super plants (like quinoa or piment), growing up to four times quicker than usual. An invention he took 25 years to fully develop, never letting go of his formula despite the numerous offers he got from agricultural giants. I’m not interested with money for money, he told us, what I want is to give people back confidence in their lands. He is convinced that the trend that has seen countrysides emptying at the benefice of life in cities in now reversing, and that the farmers of tomorrow are today engineers, bankers or salesmen. One the biggest challenge for the future is to feed everyone, and the agriculture, when practised wisely, can widely provide what we need. For Philippe, the very notion of permaculture is only good sense, working with what the nature does best instead of working to destroy it. And it is through this vision that he plays his part, convinced that knowledge is a powerful tool, and that it is what we choose to do with it that matters. After all, chemistry also happens to be the very essence of life, he told us. Now is no longer the time to realise that something’s wrong. Now is the time for solutions! And those solutions are already in our hands, provided we can use them wisely… In the end we spent more than two hours talking together, sitting in our camping chairs (as you know we’re pretty well equipped) on the parking lot. Philippe agrees for another meeting even if his schedule is largely filled already, but he won’t make it after all… We’d have had a thousand questions to ask about his product, which seems to be offering endless possibilities (food security, bioremediation, soil stabilisation, recreation of primary forests, etc), but it’s mostly his vision, definitely positive and determined, that marked us that day.   After this unexpected but very appreciable meeting, we enjoy loosing ourselves in the maze of Meknes’ Medina before heading to Fes, for a citadin stop before crossing the Atlas Mountains… #gallery-20 { margin: auto; } #gallery-20 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 33%; } #gallery-20 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-20 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ Mikkes area – Morocco – See the article Fes – Morocco – See the article Mikkes area – Morocco – See the article Meknes – Morocco – See the article Meknes – Morocco – See the article Meknes – Morocco – See the article Meknes – Morocco – See the article Fes – Morocco – See the article Fes – Morocco – See the article Fes – Morocco – See the article

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