The ultimate goal of the proposed project is to improve food security and incomes of smallholder farmers in marginal areas of Morocco through the production, consumption and sale of high-value and stress-tolerant quinoa. The project will be implemented in two phases, the first phase will focus on research and piloting of the proposed intervention, while the second phase will scale it up. The project’s specific objectives during the two phases are to:
- Introduce the most suitable quinoa cultivars and production strategies to ensure optimal productivity in targeted areas
- Develop in collaboration with relevant stockholders a viable business model for the quinoa value chain
- Pilot the business model in target communities and assess its effectiveness at all stages of the value chain
- Develop a scaling up strategy for the business model
- Scale up the business model to enable the production and consumption of quinoa on a large scale
- Empower women by involving them in project planning and implementation as well as all stages of the value chain
The primary beneficiaries of the project outputs will be smallholder farmers in the targeted area, who will reap multiple benefits from quinoa cultivation, including improvements in household food security and incomes. Around 200 smallholder farmers who are members of the local quinoa association and and their family members (i.e. around 1000 people in total based on a household size of 5) are expected to benefit during the pilot phase, while the scaling up phase will benefit around 1,000 smallholder farmers and family members (i.e. around 5,000 people in total).
Moreover, the project will also benefit community-based seed enterprises that will distribute seeds of high-yielding and stress-tolerant quinoa cultivars to farmers, suppliers of agricultural implements, and small and medium-scale food processing enterprises. Last but not least, the project will benefit consumers, whose access to nutrient-rich quinoa-based products will be marketed at national and international level.
The project will have a strong focus on the empowerment of women, whom it will engage in two important roles - as processors of quinoa, and as consumers and those who make decisions about food consumption at household level. ICBA will partner with experienced local NGOs working to promote gender equality in Morocco AREFA (Association Regionale des femmes) to ensure that the project’s women participants can voice their concerns and expectations regarding the project; are provided with the resources they need to succeed (knowledge, skills, equipment and credit); understand their rights and obligations in relation to the project and the assets that are provided/created through it; and are empowered to make decisions, particularly in relation to the income they generate through their work. ICBA will also coordinate the project’s activities with those of the National Human Development Initiative (INDH) and the Moroccan Green Plan (PMV), which also have a strong focus on women’s empowerment.
Due to previous efforts to develop a market for quinoa, groups of women are already involved in cleaning and washing quinoa grain to remove saponins, and processing quinoa flour into couscous for sale on the local market. The project will establish regional quinoa processing and packaging units under the direction of women’s groups. To monitor its progress in this regard, gender-sensitive performance indicators will be developed.
Given that Moroccan women are primarily responsible for household food consumption decisions, the marketing plan for quinoa will need to address women’s concerns regarding nutrition, taste and affordability. In order to develop effective production and marketing plans, gender roles, priorities and capacity in the context of Morocco’s rural environment will be identified and analyzed throughout the value chain.