Successful examples of creating a dry fig project
HA3 is an organizing agency, which generates greater income for farming families in disadvantaged areas and investment of profits for further community development. It is the social enterprise and subsidiary of the High Atlas Foundation (HAF). HAF is both a Moroccan organization and a US 501c3 nonprofit (registered in New York, US). The nonprofit status of HAF necessitates the creation and partnership with the HA3 subsidiaries to manage the commercial aspects of the HAF-initiated agricultural development enterprises. HA3 US is a legally registered incorporation in New York and is fully (100 percent) owned by the 501c3 non-profit HAF. Congruently, there is the HA3 Morocco social enterprise subsidiary, also fully owned (100 percent) by the 501c3 non-profit HAF. Partnership agreements exist with 16 local Moroccan cooperatives to accumulate their crops to sell in large quantity on organic markets, facilitated by the HAF-HA3 Enterprise. HAF has worked with these cooperatives for many years, and has helped local communities create the legally registered cooperatives.
2.2 Project Developers
The High Atlas Foundation – HAF and communities, with the social enterprise — High Atlas Agriculture and Artisanal (HA3), create local initiatives that span the entire agricultural development cycle – from nurseries to market, farm to fork – of certified organic agricultural raw and value-added products. The added value is marketed as organic, fair-trade and environmentally and socially responsible – and it will generate a multiplied return by investing in education, health, water infrastructure, and business development, particularly for women and youth. In this way, coops act as engines of local development.
HAF’s vision for Morocco is Morocco’s vision for itself: it is the successful implementation of the ideals that form Morocco’s own National Initiative for Human Development, Communal Charter, decentralization, binding of democracy-building with sustainable development, and frameworks for social justice and people’s empowerment, especially for women and youth. HAF’s and Morocco’s vision sees public private collaboration at all levels of society to assist communities (villages and neighborhoods) in furthering their selfreliant development. It sees community members across the country coming together to identify and implement the projects they most need and want, which range depending on the opportunities they face. To implement this across Morocco, the nation needs to catalyze participatory planning and implement the project communities determine.
It is now a matter of action, and HAF is dedicated to helping Morocco seize its historic opportunity, and create a model for the region and world. Through the application of participatory development, HAF has had diverse and broadly sustainable achievements since it began operations in Morocco in 2003. HAF is dedicated to projects that local communities identify and implement, and from which they derive sustainable socio-economic and environmental benefits. Since its beginning, HAF has built on the Peace Corps experience of its founders.
Yossef Ben-Meir –Dr. Yossef BenMeir has been dedicated to the field of international development since he joined the Peace Corps as a volunteer in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco in 1993. In 2000, he co-founded the High Atlas Foundation and served as president of the Board of Directors until January 2011, and since has been president of operations. Dr. BenMeir was a faculty member at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences of Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco (2009-2010). In 2003, he was a research fellow at the American Institute of Maghreb Studies in Morocco. Dr. Ben-Meir was also an Associate Peace Corps Director (1998-99), managing the agriculture and environment program in Morocco. He writes and publishes on the subject of promoting human development in the Middle East and North Africa. Dr. Ben-Meir holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of New Mexico (2009), where he also taught, an M.A. in international development from Clark University (1997), and a B.A. in economics from New York University (1991).
2.3 P r o j e c t Management
HAF President of Operations: Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir, as President of Operations, provides general oversight to HA3 and HAF staff, guides program staff to ensure activities adhere to HAF-HA3 mission and provides synergy to the whole food value chain process. The President of Operations/HAF CEO is the key link between HA3 and HAF, ensuring that product, activities, information, administrative and financial aspects smoothly transfer from one to the other. Dr. Ben-Meir relays developments to the HA3 and HAF Boards of Directors accordingly.
General Manager: Holds an M.B.A. or master’s in a field related to management, agriculture, economics, finance or engineering. Reports to the President of Operations and oversees, develops and gathers reports on employees, projects and project sites to ensure conformity to the HAF-HA3 mission.
Technical Director: Holds M.B.A. or master’s in similar field, with two years of experience in international trade. Works at domestic and regional levels. Manages the operations of the harvest, processing, certification, storage, packaging, and transportation of product.
Legal/Administrative Coordinator: Is a certified public accountant (Moroccan) with at least some experience in local government. Responsible for registration and local government communications. Works on a Moroccan regional, provincial and community level.
Commercial Director: Responsible for connecting with buyers of the products domestically and internationally, and assisting to create and implement a marketing strategy. Holds an M.P.A. or marketing degree; master’s in another field with two years’ experience in import/export. Works at national and international level markets.
Procurement and Accounts Manager: Manages distributer contracts, records expenses and revenue from exports, manages product insurance. Degree in management or four or more years with experience in bookkeeping. Works on all levels.
HA3 is further supported by program, development, administrative and finance staff in-kind from HAF.
- Project Sec t o r / Target Market / Economics
3.1 S e c t o r a n d i n d u s t r y
Market Environment: Fig crops are in demand in northwestern and central western European countries due to the inability in those regions to grow the crop naturally; worldwide, fig is cultivated mainly in regions stretching from Afghanistan to Portugal.,36 Sweeter figs do well in the Middle Eastern market, while European consumers demand varieties that have relatively lower sugar levels. Regarding value-added processing, figs are most often exported dried and as paste by Turkey and the U.S., respectively.
Morocco is a world leader in fig production: in 2009, the country ranked among the world’s top five fig producers (among Egypt, Turkey, Algeria and Iran), and, for dried fig production, climbed to second place globally in 2013, which 22,438 tons produced behind Turkey’s 48,000. Morocco produces almost two thirds of North Africa’s fig crop. Figs grow especially well in Morocco due to the country’s hot summers and full sun throughout the growing season. This climate ensures one to two bountiful crops a year, as long as fruit trees receive adequate water to ensure fruit does not drop early due to drought stress. Figs are harvested between June and October, depending on growing region.
The value of the fig market reached $448 million globally in 2014, with a growth rate of 8 percent from 2007 to 2014. Eighty thousand tons of fruit were produced in 2007, compared to 117 thousand tons in 2014. Demand is spread globally as follows: the U.S. and Canada import small amounts of figs from South American countries. Asian countries — specifically China, Japan and Taiwan — are major markets for figs. Japan, for example, consumes more than 20,000 tons of fresh figs per year.
In 2014, India (13 percent), Germany (13 percent), France (12 percent), the U.S. (7 percent) and the United Kingdom (5 percent) were the top destinations for fig imports, together making up 49 percent of total global imports.
Moroccan figs can effectively tap in to European Union markets. Morocco is already an important supplier to this region as the top exporter to the EU of vegetables (30 percent of EU-imported vegetables come from Morocco, meaning the country far outpaces the next highest suppliers, Egypt (9 percent of market share) and Peru (4 percent of market share)).
Morocco does not make a list of the top 10 exporting countries when it comes to fruit export to the EU, but may find a niche there soon as EU demand for fresh fruit is consistently growing. In 2013, imports of fresh fruit increased to €12.6 billion, at 13.1 million tons, from €11 billion and 12.4 million tons two years prior. €2.6 billion worth of this fruit came from outside of the EU. This demand is affected by increasing health consciousness among customers and European weather that is, in some years, unfavorable to fruit agriculture. Consumers in Scandinavian countries, especially, are increasingly demanding exotic fruits and berries due to health aspects, and demand in Eastern Europe is growing as exotic fruits become more common there. EU consumers in general are beginning to place a premium on sustainable, socially-focused production and, among older consumers, health certifications like organic. They are especially interested in brand “storytelling” focused on fruits’ regional provenance and fruits marketed as “super foods,” a strategy than can be applied to market figs due to their high fiber content.
Moroccan figs may also reach markets in the Netherlands, which, with 2.1 million tons of fruit imported annually, is the biggest European importer outside of the EU.43
Morocco is currently in its fifth round of negotiations for free trade status with the EU,44 which began in March of 2000 with the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement.
Moroccan fig crops may tap markets in the U.S., with which it has a free trade agreement,46 despite high production of figs there. The value of the U.S. fig crop, ranked sixth worldwide in 2009, was almost $22 million in 2014, with most figs coming from California.47 In 2012 alone, the California fig industry harvested 38,700 tons of the fruit, 90 percent of which went through processing. The crop’s value jumped 12 percent from the previous year, with exports traveling mainly to Canada, Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong.
Despite high U.S. production, demand for figs is high: in 2012, the country imported around $17 million worth of dried and fresh figs, mainly from Turkey and Greece, with whole fig import value increasing by 53 percent from 2011. Meanwhile, acreage dedicated to fig production has decreased by at least 5,000 acres in recent decades.
This decrease, combined with high U.S. demand and stress on California’s agriculture due to severe drought, presents a strong opportunity for Morocco to fill U.S. fig demand, especially in the U.S.’s large organic
Target Market (Customer Analysis):
Local Growers Marketing in the Moroccan market is in bulk and disregards quality, making it adverse to quality control, organic certification, and export. The fig sector is dominated by local marketing, which is constrained in sectorial development by poor distribution. Thus, the circuit differs from one region to another, with farmers unaware of their product destination or the exact price paid by consumers. Therefore, wholesalers have a high rate of profit margin. Marketing to farmers must address this distrust, but with the right message, HA3 can present farmers with a clear and fixed price through a direct buy of an entire crop.
International Buyers Important sustainable development progress has and will continue to be made by utilizing our strategic partners for commercial planning, business process and implementation, as HAF-HA3 Enterprise partnerships are built with Moroccan and international organic fig buyers.
International consumers Targeting organic consumers, in particular, is expected to bring about higher profit margins: organic consumers are willing and expected to pay a higher price in return for high quality, natural food produced by an environmentally conscious and socially focused company. Furthermore, US consumers are demanding year-round supply at reasonable prices, which the current market supply is unable to provide.
The private buyers market is a circuit with several actors, including producers, collectors, wholesalers and semiwholesalers (local and national). The producers are the first actors in the distribution chain; the marketing of their products is an extension of their production activities. They are farmers who own their farms and produce figs often employing seasonal labor. They may also be members of a group with shared economic interests.
Local Collectors are found mainly in the areas of production, and are buyers in the local area who undertake the initial task of assembling nuts. These collectors have close relationships with producers (parents, friends, etc.) in order to retain their supplies and sell them at local souk markets. They use their own capital, equipment and commercialization procedures. They sell their product to semi-wholesalers.
Semi-wholesalers’ function is to buy figs from producers or collectors at the local markets and re-sell them to local wholesalers. They can market the product outside the local or provincial souk markets. They differ from the local wholesalers by the smaller amounts that they purchase.
Local wholesalers are traders from the region, and are sometimes themselves producers of figs. They can buy the majority of fig product from collectors, but can also sometimes buy directly from producers. They have sufficient financial resources to collect large amounts of fig product and sell to domestic wholesalers in large Moroccan cities, who, in turn, sell product to wholesalers and distributors of pastries.
National wholesalers are based in large Moroccan cities, often identified as the “great middle”. They buy figs from local wholesalers and sell their products in the domestic market to distributors, processors and exporters.