Annual Moussem festival in Ait M’hamed: a celebration of tradition and biocultural diversity (part 2)

As highlighted in our provious blog on the biocultural diversity fair organised during the annual Moussem festival in Aït M’hamed, the exciting activities didn’t stop there! We kicked off the third day of the festival with a colourful workshop on natural plant dyes hosted at the Dar Chabab youth centre. Aïcha, a local expert on plant dyes, shared her knowledge with a group of 14 women and demonstrated the process of dying wool black with a mixture of Fraxinus dimorphaleaves and Taroubia root (Rubia tinctorum). Eager to learn more about other natural plant dyes and the colours they produce, we invited all the participants to share their plant expertise with us. Through the interactive discussion that followed, we identified 13 local species used as plant dyes such as the bark of pomegranate trees, which produces a vibrant yellow. Since the dying process can take up to a full day, Aïcha showed us the result of the dye with Fraxinus dimorpha leaves and Taroubia the following morning. “I really enjoyed sharing my knowledge with other women about natural plant dyes,” she said. In the afternoon we invited members of the local livestock association to join us for a facilitated dialogue on agdals in Igourdan, located 30 km from the centre of Aït M’hamed. Agdals consist of large tracts of land with a source of water used for grazing or foraging during specific periods throughout the year. These areas are collaboratively managed by several communities with specific regulations regarding access rights. In Igourdan, the plots of lands managed by the agdal system are closed from early April until the beginning of summer after most plants have blossomed and set seeds, which makes these areas very relevant and important for plant conservation activities such as seed collecting. During these discussions, we learned more about the households that are...

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The annual Moussem festival in Ait M’hamed: a celebration of tradition and biocultural diversity (Part I)

During the last week of April, we left our desks for a few days to participate in the annual Moussem festival in Ait M’hamed, a lively village located in the High Atlas mountains. Together with our partner Global Diversity Foundation, we used the opportunity of this gathering to host a festival stand and organise a biocultural diversity fair aimed at disseminating the work of GDF-MBLA’s High Atlas Cultural Landscapes (HACL) programme as well as creating spaces for discussion regarding biological and cultural interactions. Before arriving at the festival, we made a small detour to visit community researcher Hammou who has been very busy during the past two months supporting the construction of our brand new community nursery. He was very pleased to share the good news that the land is finally ready for planting and we look forward to seeing the nursery flourish as spring turns into summer. The new site will support cultivation and enrichment planting of locally-selected endemic, useful and threatened tree crops and plants, such as Oregano (Origanum compactum Benth.) and Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.), thus boosting wild populations and reducing harvesting pressure on these species. After a tour of the nursery and the blooming greenhouse, we continued our journey to the centre of Aït M’hamed where the festival would take place. Greeted by colourful trucks filled with horses, men, women and children, we quickly realised we were in for a unique experience! Every year, the Moussem festival in Aït M’hamed gathers people from surrounding towns and villages to enjoy musical festivities and to celebrate local traditions such as the Fantasia, which is a very popular horsemanship spectacle. “The Moussem festival in Aït M’hamed is part of an ancient tradition during which the local saint Sidi Hmad ou Aamer was celebrated,” community researcher Touda says. “Moussem literally means ‘season’; it is therefore also known...

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Spring in full swing at Dar Taliba

Over the past months, the Dar Taliba boarding house gardens have flourished. The girls have harvested lots of delicious vegetables, enough to provide weekly school meals for all 130 girls currently in residence. “The vegetables from our garden which the girls have planted taste much better than the ones from the souk (local market),” Dar Taliba gardener Al Hoessein says. Since the beginning of February, the Dar Taliba students received trainings on planting vegetable seeds and successfully cultivated over 3,100 seeds in the greenhouse! The girls took such good care of their seeds that everyone was able to take vegetable seedlings, such as tomatoes, cucumbers and green beans, home to their families during last month’s vacations. Based on the practical planting skills they developed during these sessions, we are confident they will successfully raise these vegetables in their home gardens. “We mainly grow fruit in our garden, mostly apples and plums,” Meryam, aged 12, says. “I’m really excited to take these vegetables home and plant them in our garden with my mom.” With the arrival of spring and some unexpected rainfall in April, the girls have been very busy with the maintenance, harvesting and daily running of the gardens. As part of these spring gardens preparations, we delivered 20 permaculture trainings with our partner Radiant Design during which the girls learned new skills, such as mulching. This technique is very valuable as it keeps down weeds, retains the soil’s moisture and protects the soil from drying out, especially during hot summers. The mulch the girls used during these trainings consisted of organic material harvested in the garden. “I really enjoy working with my hands, especially when we are planting seeds,” Kaoutar, aged 14 says. “When we have a break in between classes we often go to the gardens to watch...

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The Rural Commune of Imegdal is located approximately 75km south of Marrakech in the Al Haouz Province (Marrakesh-Safi region). With altitudes ranging from 900 to 2500m, the commune has an area of approximately 278 km² with a population of 5537 people (1156 households) dispersed across 28 small villages …

Aït M’hamed

The Rural Commune of Aït M’hamed lies approximately 180 km east of Marrakech in the Azilal province (Béni Mellal-Khénifra region), covers an approximate area of 560 km2 and has altitudes ranging from 950 to 2600m. According to the Moroccan 2014 census, Aït Mohamed has a population of 23696 (3493 households) dispersed …


The Rural Commune of Oukaïmeden, which rises to a maximum altitude of 2,650m, is located approximately 75 km south of Marrakech in the Al Haouz Province, Marrakesh-Safi Region. It has an area of approximately 51 km2 with a population of 4861 people (782 households) according to the 2014 Moroccan census…
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Annonce de recrutement

L’ Association Marocaine de la Biodiversité et des Moyens de subsistance est à la recherche de collaborateurs motivés pour travailler de manière autonome au sein d’une structure horizontale pour atteindre des résultats convenus d’un commun accord dans notre programme de paysage culturel du Haut Atlas