15 May 2018
Sale, Morocco
Sustainable Food and Agriculture

Meryem Alaoui’s green thinking was not a foreign concept in Morocco when she first demonstrated it. In fact, it is now wedged in most entrepreneurs’ way of thinking. The Moroccan innovator, however, summoned the farm-to-table practice advocating for the minimization of the carbon footprint, while capitalizing on producing organic, local products.

Sale, a city in north-western Morocco, is where the idea fermented — a family-owned farm growing agro-ecological produce. Coming from a law background, Alaoui kick-started her initiative, Direct Ferme, in January 2017 to develop processed products such as jelly, jams, chutneys and more.

The concept behind Direct Ferme:

Alaoui’s eco-mindset extends beyond the farm to cover distribution routes. It aims to ensure short-circuit distribution and delivery to maintain a scanty carbon footprint. In fact, the initiative heavily relies on local farmers and producers to further curtail any ecological effect. By examining a large- and small-scale groceries systems, numbers show that fossil fuels-related carbon emissions are higher in the former, in the form of delivery, cold storage, packing, and administration.

Although Alaoui’s education was far from agriculture and sustainability, the entrepreneur undertook the great deal of educating herself. “I took a number of courses to help develop the project — from agro-ecology and project structuring, to communications training and fruit natural processing,” Alaoui says.

With that in hand, challenges still presented themselves. “We had to go through a number of trials, of course, before our business model proved successful,” explains Alaoui.

Social impact as a significant catalyst:

Akin to the environmental side, further aspects impelled the progress of Direct Ferme such as the social impact it has on the respective community. “Social awareness and nature go hand-in-hand within Direct Ferme and extends to farming and other seemingly connected practices and technologies,” adds Alaoui.

Though only a small percentage of the public is accessible to such information, Alaoui on occasions goes on air; on TV or radio to raise awareness of the farm-to-table notion, to be a set tradition for all households. “We try to do our best, but sometimes more efforts are needed from people with sizeable purchasing power,” notes Alaoui.

This business is bringing the farm-to-table concept to Morocco’s food markets | The Switchers

Collaborating with people from the community on the matter helps stir the mindset towards going local.

Member of Green Business Keys-GBK Innovation Solidarity’s consultants, and one of Direct Ferme’s contractors, Michel Cohen echoes Alaoui’s ideas. “For some years now, our eating philosophy has been to thoroughly eat as sane as possible and by shortening the distance to producers, [so] buying more local,” Cohen says. “Though urbanites in Morocco, my parents used to own a small family farm: it helped us as kids to learn what natural and quality food means. As well as good and long-term  interrelationship between us and the farmers.”

Cohen added that environmental concerns were the basis of his dealings with Direct Ferme and Alaoui, commending her efforts and dedication. As a client member of a local farmers’ association for sustainable, direct sale and as a business strategy consultant himself, Cohen says that Direct Ferme possesses the right ethical spirit, vision, and action for a modern and sustainable practice.

“I believe Direct Ferme now needs to get to the next step with a firm and envisioned, ethical, and sustainable help,” he remarked. “Direct Ferme may then reach its normal growth pace by extending their capacities, plus the semi-industrial transformation outlet, in order to deliver at any market.”

Alaoui has got the market in Morocco by the reins and is visibly stretching her ideas beyond her surroundings and Morocco. “Between Direct Ferme and contractors, a culture is slowly coming together, and is proving effective,” says Alaoui. “People now are inclined to go with whatever is local, natural, and preservative-free.”


To connect with Direct Ferme, check the Facebook page.

Photos: Courtesy of Direct Ferme.

Eman is an editor, and a finance and startup ecosystem journalist.Eman El-Sherbiny
This business is bringing the farm-to-table concept to Morocco’s food markets | The Switchers
Direct Ferme Organic Food & Agriculture