An endemic species resistant to drought [INTÉGRAL]

An endemic species resistant to drought [INTÉGRAL]
An endemic species resistant to drought [INTÉGRAL]
While the agricultural sector is suffering from the severe drought that the Kingdom is experiencing this year, certain crops are showing resilience like the Argan tree, which has just celebrated its international day on Friday, for the fourth year. The choice of the date of May 10 is not fortuitous since it is inspired by the ripening cycle of the fruit of the Argan tree, the famous “Affiach”.

The UN Resolution adopted in 2021, in favor of this ancestral tree, recognizes the colossal contribution of the Argan sector in the implementation of the 17 objectives of the 2030 agenda and the achievement of sustainable development in its three dimensions: economic, social and environmental. It also highlights the many uses of Argane oil, particularly in traditional and complementary medicine and in the culinary and cosmetic industries. Among the values ​​and positive impacts of the Argan tree, the proclamation text for the World Day also cites financial empowerment and the emancipation of women in rural areas. Thanks to the role that the Argan tree plays in favor of local populations, Morocco provides a true textbook case in terms of solidarity economy, eradication of poverty and human development through the support and promotion of the role cooperatives and other forms of agricultural organizations active in the sector.

Wealth generator

Today, the Argan industry has an annual turnover of 1.2 billion dirhams, more than 45,000 direct female jobs, and also 25,000 points of sale throughout Morocco. , from Oujda to Boujdour, via Berkane, Fez, Marrakech, without forgetting the economic and administrative capitals of the country. This means that this rare and endemic species, which does not exist in its natural state anywhere other than in Morocco, is a real vector of social, economic and tourist development. Assets that add to the preservation of biodiversity, the conservation of the balance of nature and the fight against climate change.

Indeed, the Argan tree stands out for its sustainable and resilient agro-forestry methods and practices which ensure the viability of food production systems, the preservation of biological diversity and the adaptation and mitigation of the effects of climate change.

Thus, Lahcen Kenny, Teacher-Researcher at the Agronomic and Veterinary Institute Hassan-II (IAV), explains to us that “the Argan tree is an excellent vector for mitigating climate change, especially since it is completely resilient in the face of drought”. This is why the work of the seventh edition of the International Argan Congress was held under the sign of sustainability. An event which would be a moment of national and international mobilization around this endemic tree and its ancestral ecosystem. In this regard, the Minister of Agriculture, Maritime Fisheries, Rural Development and Water and Forests, Mohamed Sadiki, who focused on the different strategies and various programs put in place by the ministry in order to promote value chain of the Argan tree, noted that as part of the “Green Morocco Plan”, more than 164,000 hectares of forest area have been rehabilitated as part of a participatory approach with rights holders and 10,000 hectares of agricultural argan trees were planted in vulnerable areas.

“Efforts will be continued to support the development of this sector as part of the implementation of the “Generation Green” and “Forests of Morocco” strategies, in accordance with the objectives of the New Development Model, for a sustainable Morocco keen to preserve its resources,” assured the minister.

A heritage under threat!

A necessary commitment to compensate for the drops in productivity experienced by the sector, while demand is constantly increasing. “Over the years, the volume of harvests has declined enormously,” laments Fatna, who has made the argan tree her profession for more than three decades. Declines due to the effects of climate change, intensive cultivation and increasing pressure on resources. “Today, international demand is high, but we must absolutely ensure that this dynamic of openness to the world does not impact local achievements, particularly on the cultural, social and economic side,” warns Lahcen Kenny.

Nationally, these trees cover an area exceeding 800,000 hectares (ha) spread over the three regions of Souss-Massa, Marrakech-Safi and Guelmim-Oued Noun. In the same sense, it is planned that the planting of agricultural argan trees will be increased to 50,000 ha by 2030 as part of the implementation of the development strategy for the argan sector, supervised since 2011.

Offering its leaves for mountain goats, its flowers for bees, its fruits for the gastronomic and cosmetic pleasures of Man, the argan tree can only be described as generous, which, for centuries, has been “the tree of life” for the populations of the South.



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