How to adapt in times of COVID: social media training for rural cooperatives in the Moroccan High Atlas

By Pommelien da Silva Cosme. Photos by Ibtissam Bouseta and Pommelien da Silva Cosme.

26 April 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many rural communities and local economies all over the world, including in Morocco. In order to adapt to its challenges, community members of different rural cooperatives requested support to create online platforms to commercialise and promote their products, and to improve their branding and social media marketing. We readily took their request on board as part of our High Atlas Cultural Landscapes programme commitment to provide capacity-building workshops that support the commercialisation of local products.

We identified five partner cooperatives in the Azilal region based on several criteria to assess if their products are biodiversity friendly and support community livelihoods, amongst others. To respond to each cooperative’s specific needs, we went on a three-day field trip to visit them with our local partner Moroccan Biodiversity and Livelihoods Association (MBLA), and local social media expert Saoussane Abdelli.

On the road to visit cooperatives in the High Atlas

Throughout the field trip, we met with members of the five cooperatives and were overwhelmed with delicious food and gorgeous landscapes. Each cooperative introduced us to their unique products, including almonds, honey, saffron, couscous, olive oil and thyme. Based on what we discovered during the visit, we were able to develop an exciting social media marketing training programme, which was held in the first week of March.

Ten members of the five rural cooperatives attended the exciting two-day training. “The cooperative members were actively participating and very interested throughout the training, given the fact that it responded to their need to learn more about the potential of social media for their marketing,” Saoussane says. “They also realised that social media plays an important role nowadays in selling products, and that they currently lack the skills and tools to use social media to their benefit.”

Participants during the session on content creation

Participants learned how to develop an online presence strategy, manage Facebook and Instagram accounts, create content, increase traffic, and more. They also brought their wonderful products, which we photographed to use as social media and website content.

“The cooperatives really needed a push in social media marketing to differentiate themselves and to promote their products,” Saoussane says. “Social media marketing really helps them to attract customers, and to introduce their customers to their brand. It also offers an opportunity to present the quality of their products, as well as the process behind it.”

Social media marketing expert Saoussane facilitated the training

Through this project, local communities will come to represent their own cultural products, and the people who are stewards of biodiversity of the High Atlas will receive direct benefits that sustain their livelihoods. This event was a huge success thanks to the enthusiasm of our participants, the well-designed programme of our local social media expert, and the excellent coordination of our local partner MBLA. We also thank the Darwin Initiative for their generous support to implement this COVID-19 response project.

In addition to this training, we are also supporting the development of websites for each cooperative, which we are excited to share once they are online. Stay tuned for the final results!

Local products (almonds and thyme)