The H’lib Bladi project in Morocco: a sustainable agriculture approach in partnership with small-scale local producers


One year after COP 21 in Paris, at which a historic agreement was signed between the participating countries, COP 22 is taking place in Marrakech from 7 to 18 November. Danone is present with a stand in the green zone, close to the AAA (Adaptation of African Agriculture) zone. 7 minutes reading.


For Danone, the COP22 is an occasion to specifically address the question of sustainable agriculture by describing its commitments on behalf of the climate (as in the Climate Policy), and to emphasize its commitment to a circular economy, as evinced in its recently disseminated Packaging Policy.

In the spotlight at the Danone stand is a speaking example of Danone’s unique and particular approach to sustainable agriculture: the Moroccan project H’lib Bladi, designed to help small-scale milk producers in Morocco, and carried out in partnership with GIZ.

A comprehensive approach to relationships with small-scale producers

Supported jointly by Danone’s Moroccan subsidiary Centrale Danone, GIZ (a German company specializing in international development) and the Danone Ecosystem Fund, the H’lib Bladi project embodies the relationship Danone wants to create with local small-scale producers and family farms, from whom the company buys farm and dairy produce: the raw material for Danone products. According to Danone Ecosystem Sourcing Development Manager Pierre Bou, the company’s overall approach is designed to foster responsible, competitive, long-lasting local production models. In each market, « what we need to do is to diversify our sourcing and develop the local network of small-scale farmers, because this is the key element in our purchasing strategy. We want them to become part of the value chain in the long-term. This is known as ‘inclusivity’. »

The purpose of the Ecosystem Fund is to take action within dairy industries by training farmers, regularly monitoring and helping them in their work, and integrating them into the product value chain as a whole. It is doing this in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa – particularly North Africa, with projects that include H’Lib Dzaïr in Algeria, Milky Way-Adie in Tunisia, Milk Collection Communities in Egypt, and the most recent: H’lib Bladi.

“A profitable, enduring dairy production model”

The aim of this project is to improve the quality and quantity of the milk produced by the 120,000 small-scale farmers who are Danone’s partners in Morocco: a country where small producers represent 80% of the milk volumes collected nation-wide. For Centrale Danone, the aim is to secure high-quality milk supplies that are reliable and diversified. To achieve this, H’lib Bladi is focusing on three main goals:

– Higher incomes and boosted production capacities for small-scale milk producers;
– Training for producers affiliated to milk collection centers on the quality, hygiene and management of farms;
– The development of a more environmentally-friendly farming and collection activity with a powerful social impact.

In practical terms, the project thus makes it possible to roll out a training programme for 10,000 farmers, improve the infrastructures of milk collection centers, equip and supervise farmers with high potential, facilitate access to water, electricity and micro-credits, provide aid for educating farmers’ children, carry out environmental actions and supply better-quality animal fodder. And we are already seeing results: payment per liter of milk has increased by 11% and production itself by 30% since the project started.

“As the historical architect of the national dairy industry, Centrale Danone has always made farmers central to its concerns. This commitment is taking shape with H’lib Bladi, where the aim is to develop a profitable, enduring dairy production model by 2020, which reflects the actual situation of producers, » says Centrale Danone CEO Didier Lamblin. And these are very keen on the initiative, like Mustapha El Horche, a farmer in the Berrechid region: “I am proud to be part of the H’lib Bladi farming community and be able to see the future with more optimism and hope. This is a completely new project, which offers farmers and their families fresh prospects. Before, farming was a highly unstable profession because our revenues fluctuated so much. Thanks to this program, my job is more secure and I feel more confident about the future of my profession and my children.”

Because it secures high-quality raw dairy materials, perpetuates the activity of small-scale farmers in the long-term and integrates them into an enduring value chain, the H’lib Bladi project is triggering a virtuous circle in economic, environmental and social terms. A source of inspiration for Danone, now committed to promoting sustainable agriculture throughout Africa.