The United Nations (UN) is celebrating Argan trees today as it marks the International Day of Argania . The UN designated May 10 each year to recognize this valuable resource and the local communities that process and farm it. According to the FAO, the day presents an avenue to celebrate communities worldwide whose innovative farming techniques increase resilience to climate change and boost food security.
Meanwhile, the Argan tree only grows in few areas across the globe, one of which is Morocco. The Argan tree is one of the treasures of morocco. It provides one of the country’s most valuable exports, argan oil, and only grows naturally in and around Morocco. The tree grows mostly in the empty desert mountainscape area of Chtouka Ait Baha. The tree is resistant to droughts and can withstand temperatures of up to 50 degrees.
Moreover, it plays an irreplaceable role in the lives of the region’s communities. Local people living in these arid and semi-arid lands have created an incredible production system based on the argan tree. These local communities make oil and other products from the argan trees. Also, they farm on the land around the trees, and rear goats who scale the short trees and eat argan nuts. For this reason, it is known as an agro (farming)- sylvo (trees)- pastoral (goats) system.
Uses of the argan
Argan oil is the main product of the argan tree and perhaps its most well-known product globally. The nut of the Argan fruit produces the Argan oil. This oil is used for cooking and for nourishing both skin and hair.
However, it is very difficult and tiresome to extract the oil. You will need 50 kilos of fruit to produce just half a litre of oil. As a result, argan’s market price is usually much higher than that of olive oil, according to the FAO.
Besides, the FAO stated that the food, cosmetic and therapeutic virtues of argan oil became known since the 1990s. This hidden treasure from the depths of Morocco has made waves on the international market as well.
Argan products are a key source of income for communities in the area. Meanwhile, for centuries, rural women have been paring the argan oil has been prepared at home. The women break down the hard shells of the pits with a stone. After that, they extract and chop the kernel, before adding some warm water to help extract the oil. The making of argan oil is also a social occasion for the women to get together. Also, the argan tree produces excellent quality wood and charcoal.
Ingenious agricultural practices
Also, local communities have developed many clever ways of using the land in areas where the argan is grown in Morocco. This includes agroforestry practices that are highly resilient to the arid, water-scarce environment and poor soils. Water is critical in such a dry, arid climate and local farmers have developed a water management system. Inhabitants in these areas built long canals along the slopes of mountains.
Also, agro-pastoralists have carved large rain-water reservoirs, called Matifiya, into the rock underneath the ground. These large underground caverns catch and filter water from the land above. Consequently, they are so effective at collecting water. This helps the locals to continue their livelihoods despite long dry periods.