Our consortium partner Douar Tech is an inclusive, non-profit technology hub aimed to develop the economic independence of vulnerable youth, especially women in rural communities. Through entrepreneurship and professional digital skills training, we leverage innovation in the heart of Morocco’s cannabis zone for the sustainable development of rural communities. We will expand the legal export of cannabis products by manufacturing natural oils, textiles and construction materials.
The rural commune of Bab Berred is historically impoverished. With little or no access to higher or vocational education institutions, many youth are denied equitable entry to decent work. Alternative work is largely concentrated in unskilled and informal agricultural labour or micro-businesses, otherwise, youth are employed in local urban centers such as Tangier or Casablanca, thereby displaced from their community.
Cannabis cultivation is a historical activity in Morocco dating back to the 15th century. Today, 62% of production is concentrated in Chefchaouen province. However, the Cannabis market is overshadowed by exploitation and criminality, resulting in a lingering feeling of shame. In northern Morocco, the high number of middlemen between family farmers and growers allows poverty to persist through social and economic vulnerability. Families engaged in the growing of cannabis in these areas have experienced stigmatization through criminal records, expunged identities, and a lack of access to decent work.
In 2021, the Moroccan Parliament introduced legislation to legalize and regulate cannabis cultivation and transformation. However, due to centuries of exclusion and corruption, local producers face a heavy burden of high expenses, inefficient processes, and barred foreign export markets.
The new policies of the Moroccan government should now focus on training and assisting farmers in their transition from illegal to legal Cannabis production settings. It is crucial to proactively preserve the traditions associated with the long-established cultivation of Cannabis while granting fair access to international regulated markets.
Bio Cannat and Douar Tech aim to develop Cannabis Tech to sustainably scale up operations of the manufacturing and production of cannabis products from the rural commune of Bab Berred in the province of Chefchaouen. Our consortium leads with a vision for an innovative rural workforce equipped with 21st-century digital skills, leading the movement of an emerging 10B EUR industry and revolutionizing small farmer ownership in northern Morocco. Our approach focuses on an integrated learning model which engages entrepreneurial and technological ecosystems through programmatic and other professional networking initiatives. We aim to tackle depopulation in remote villages by encouraging people to engage in long-term jobs in the rural production sector. Local communities in traditional areas of cultivation would benefit from the potential to promote sustainable tourism, increase job creation and community ownership while preserving local cultures, knowledge, and products.
Bio Cannat is poised to scale the legal export of unique cannabis products by manufacturing natural oils, textiles, construction materials, and more. We will exemplify the potential for careers in cannabis agri-tech and agribusiness by generating 420 decent jobs. Through partnerships with training and technical experts, Douar Tech will inform, recruit, train, retain, and conduct business with over 9,200 local community members, building equity in a historically exploited area of the country. We believe that the sector’s future lies in the hands of the local community to pave the way for an autonomous network of more than 800,000 people.
Gender Inclusivity and Youth Impact
Cannabis cultivation, manufacture, and trade are suitable for village development and local employment of women and youth, as most jobs in the sector can be performed by young people or by people with disabilities. Our vision is coupled with a projection to employ 420 people by 2024, 60% of whom will be women. Douar Tech will accompany Bio Cannat as a gender and social inclusion pedagogical leader outfitted with certification programs. In fact, our emphasis on community and collaboration has revealed that our metrics reflect a 96% retention rate of participants in entrepreneurship programs. Women specifically design Douar Tech’s programs, with over 115 female alumni across socio-economic backgrounds and education levels. Additionally, our blended learning and delivery model accommodates working mothers and employees with additional needs by utilizing digital interfaces and offering social support mechanisms, such as on-site childcare facilities.
The support of CFYE allows this consortium to come to fruition with the onboarding of Douar Tech as the leader for training and development in tandem with the scale-up of Bio Cannat’s activities. Bio Cannat has developed its primary workforce of 70 individuals, an attractive buyer segment in the Moroccan and European economies. With CFYE support, the project will be better designed, proceed more quickly, and reach more young people than it otherwise would have.