Crédit Agricole du Maroc invests in climate-smart farms

Efma feature

11 July 2019

Leïla Akhmisse, Executive Director of Crédit Agricole du Maroc’s Foundation for Sustainable Development, spoke to Efma’s Boris Plantier about the group’s commitment to protecting vulnerable farmers from the effects of climate change.

Crédit Agricole du Maroc, whose watchword translates as “sustainable commitment”, has been dedicated to supporting the socioeconomic development of the agricultural and rural world since its establishment in 1961. Through this mission, it naturally places social and environmental responsibility at the heart of its activity.

In 2011, the group launched the Foundation for Sustainable Development in the aim of aligning with Morocco’s National Charter for Environment and Sustainable Development, an unprecedented step forward in the region that was announced in 2010. Since then, the group has strengthened its support for projects enabling farmers in precarious situations to increase their income while simultaneously preserving the environment.

“Eight years ago, Crédit Agricole du Maroc launched a Foundation dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture, enhancing our strong commitment in rural sustainable development through financial inclusion of farmers of all sizes,” said Leïla Akhmisse, the Foundation’s Executive Director.

The Foundation for Sustainable Development focuses on three areas of intervention: the professionalization of sustainable rural economic activities; the conservation of natural resources and the promotion of renewable energy; and biodiversity protection and adaptation to climate change.

Today’s climate emergency has brought this third aspect to the top of the agenda. Leïla Akhmisse explained why: “in Morocco, agriculture continues to play a vital role in the economy by occupying 34% of the active population and contributing on average to 15% of its GDP depending on climate and market hazards. That is why our Foundation is helping farmers to develop sustainable solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation while reducing costs and increasing efficiency.”

Crédit Agricole du Maroc is therefore rising to the climate challenge by financing climate-smart farms across the country. These farms are designed to both mitigate the effects of climate change (drought, increasing temperatures, threats to surrounding flora and fauna, and so on) and target the contributing factors, namely carbon dioxide emissions.

“Diverse projects were carried out in climate-smart irrigation, carbon footprints and greenhouse gases reduction through energy efficiency and renewable energy in farms, agroecology and organic farming, farm-to-table value chains and circular economy,” explained Akhmisse.
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Adapting farms to cope with and respond to climate change has as much a positive impact on the economy as on the environment, since it ensures farmers’ livelihoods are safeguarded for the future.

“The model climate-smart farm, which is replicable and adaptable to specific conditions, offers farmers an opportunity to reduce energy costs, create symbiosis between waste and value creation, and improve farming techniques to reduce overexploitation of natural resources while increasing productivity.”

The farms are funded through three main branches, including Crédit Agricole of Morocco’s bank itself, for farms that meet the traditional banking rules and requirements. However, in Morocco, close to 70% of agriculture is made up of small and medium farms, the majority of which are excluded from the traditional financing system due to their fragile economic position.

In order to grant these disadvantaged segments of society access to financial services, Crédit Agricole of Morocco created a microfinance institution in 2006 called the Ardi Foundation, which targets microfarmers wishing to develop off-farm economic activities, and Tamwil El Fellah in 2010, a mesofinance institution for small and medium farms without collateral.

The Foundation’s support for farmers goes beyond financial assistance, extending to capacity building, technical support and experience capitalization.

“Each undertaken project culminates with adapted knowledge and capacity building of farmers, user-friendly guidebooks with best practices available free online, as well as adapted financial products that are tailored to make innovation accessible to all Moroccan farmers. The sum of their parts makes up a comprehensive vision for sustainable agriculture in Morocco.”

Following the success of these climate-smart farms, Crédit Agricole of Morocco plans to update the model as new challenges emerge.

“Now, our Foundation is ready to partner with international donors and experts to respond to newly identified needs of Moroccan farmers, ensuring a sustainable future for their environments and income,” concluded Akhmisse.

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Keywords : Corporate social responsibility (CSR) , Business strategy/Model

Geography : Morocco