07 Apr 2020
Berchid, Morocco
Sustainable Food and Agriculture, Sustainable Tourism

Is agriculture the driver for Morocco’s sustainable future or a millstone around the economy’s neck? With some creative thinking, Moroccan farming could flourish in the 21st century, providing jobs and minimizing environmental harm. Yet if the sector’s practices go unchanged, agriculture could drag Morocco even further back in its unequal struggle against climate change. 

Moroccan agriculture has reached a crossroads — a fact not lost on Abderrahman Kroumille, the founder of sustainable farming project Bionatil. In three years, Kroumille has developed his farm in accordance with international best practice for sustainable agriculture. Bionatil draws upon all manner of eco-friendly infrastructure, from solar-powered pumps to hydroponic horticulture to biogas production.

Kroumille wants Bionatil to demonstrate the enormous potential of sustainable farming to all Moroccans. For this precise reason, he invites schoolchildren, families, and companies to tour the farm and learn about agriculture’s relationship with the environment. “Our aim is to get people to connect with nature,” said Kroumille. 

In 2016, Kroumille bought an expansive plot of land in Berchid, a region about 50 kilometers outside Casablanca. The area has deep ties to the agriculture industry — unfortunately, however, Kroumille saw little investment in biodiversity taking place.

Agriculture has contributed to Morocco’s precarious position in the face of climate change. Farm irrigation systems have depleted groundwater reserves in recent years, as the industry strives to continue providing income for over 80 percent of rural households. Morocco, long plagued by extreme water scarcity, cannot continue surrendering these precious sources of water.

Bionatil uses agriculture techniques, both new and old, that promote greater water efficiency. Kroumille implements ancient irrigation processes alongside cutting-edge hydroponics, which drastically reduce the amount of water needed to grow food crops. These initiatives show a clear path for balancing economic potential and sustainability in Moroccan agriculture.

Water conservation is just one important objective for Bionatil’s business plan. The farm further promotes energy efficiency by using solar power to drive pumps and lighting, while a new biogas facility will convert organic waste into another source of clean energy.

Having built his sustainable infrastructure, Kroumille now invites the general public to visit Bionatil and see how the property functions for themselves. The tranquil surroundings also offer a welcome respite for city dwellers, who can contemplate a bucolic setting from traditional Berber tents erected on the farm.

Unsurprisingly, visits from Morocco’s next generation inspire the most hope in Kroumille for a greener future. “I love to see the joy and fulfilment of children and their families on my property,” he said. Kroumille is building on this youthful enthusiasm by aiming, quite literally, for the stars — Bionatil has plans for installing high-powered telescopes to facilitate astronomy sessions for the children.

The journey of developing Bionatil to its current capacity has not been straightforward. Kroumille has used his own money entirely and would appreciate financial support and guidance. Yet his dream of promoting sustainable agriculture is already making an impact in Morocco, a country in desperate need of progressive farming initiatives like Bionatil.

 

Learn more about Bionatil through Facebook and YouTube.

Photos courtesy of Bionatil

David Wood is a freelance writer and researcher based in Beirut. He previously worked in Cairo.David Wood
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