Development of the argan tree: a royal strategy to preserve this ecological, economic and cultural heritage

Thursday, July 22, 2021 at 12:49 By: Rabiâ SALHANE Rabat – Morocco has experienced remarkable changes over the past two decades, crowned by a series of development projects. During 22 years of reign, HM King Mohammed VI gave a strong impetus to various sectors, in particular politics, economy, culture and the environment, which remains one of the major projects. The Sovereign has thus put in place harmonious, effective and efficient strategies and initiatives with clear and precise objectives. HM the King has launched sustainable development programs to preserve the Kingdom’s natural resources, in this case the oasis areas and the argan tree, which constitutes a natural national heritage of great importance. These include the National Agency for the Development of Oasis Zones and Argan (ANDZOA). Since its creation in 2010, the Agency has taken care to support large areas of Oasis and Argan, which constitute nearly 40% of the territory. Significant results have been achieved under the 2012-2020 program, aimed at improving socio-economic indicators and supporting the environmental systems of oases and the argan tree. The Agency’s support for these areas consists of guaranteeing access to basic services (electricity, drinking water, road development), the contribution to the education and health sectors, as well as to economic activities, especially agriculture. In 2019, ANDZOA was able to achieve the objectives of this program which provided for the planting of 3 million palm trees by 2020, the reorganization of palm farms which cover an area of ​​50,000 ha, the creation of new plantations over an area of ​​17,000 ha, as well as the development of the sector. Production has thus increased from 90,000 tonnes annually before the Green Morocco Plan to 127,000 currently, thanks to the importance given by the Agency to oases and producers, especially young people. ANDZOA plans to set up a new 10-year strategy, which follows a study drawn up in this context. The objective being to create an integrated development in the oasis zones, through the launch of projects to support young workers in this sector, to ensure their organization within the framework of cooperatives, as well as the creation of new jobs related to the oasis tourism sector. The Sovereign also launched in 2013 the strategy for the development of oasis and argan zones which aims at the overall and integrated development of these zones which cover nearly 40% of the national territory (5 regions, 16 provinces and 400 municipalities). ) and the development of the economic, natural and cultural resources with which they abound, in addition to the protection of ecosystems. In this sense, the president of the International Center for Strategic Studies and Research in Space Governance and Sustainable Development in Oases and Mountains (ERSG-SDDOM), Aziz Bentaleb underlined, in a statement to MAP, that the proclamation of the International Argan Day by the United Nations General Assembly is an important recognition of Morocco’s efforts in the protection and enhancement of this plant wealth, as cultural, socio-economic and ecological heritage. This decision is the result of a series of pleas launched by Morocco in all international meetings on the preservation of the environment and the promotion of the maintenance of fragile ecosystems, which have an important role in the mitigation of global warming and desertification, as well as in the achievement of sustainable development goals, said the professor at the Center for Historical and Environmental Studies of the Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture (IRCAM). This Royal strategy has contributed to many achievements on the ground, in particular a reduction in the poverty rate, which fell from 13.4% to 6.8% between 2007 and 2019, creating more than 92,000 jobs in oasis areas and the argan tree between 2012 and 2019, said Bentaleb, adding that it has also contributed to strengthening infrastructure and access to basic services, including rural electrification, drinking water supply, and the opening up of many douars in these areas. With regard to date palms, numerous afforestation and palm shoot planting operations have taken place in various Moroccan oases, notably in Drâa Tafilalet, as part of the Green Morocco Plan, aimed at improving agricultural production and linking oasis for job creation. Colossal efforts have been made within the framework of a global Royal vision which has always taken care to preserve and develop this rare resource, with economic, social, cultural and environmental dimensions.