by Jude Jacob November 02, 2020
Why is argan so unique?
Argan is the heart and soul of all FRÉ’s products. It’s a uniquely nourishing ingredient harvested from resilient trees that weather the most extreme climates. Argania Spinosa is the only type of argan tree around the world; it’s a tree endemic to Morocco that has great biological, nutritional, socioeconomic, and ecological value.
Argania Spinosawood is an excellent source of charcoal. The tree’s fruit contains a highlynutritious oil used in skincare and also for cooking, and the leaves are used for feeding animals.
The argan tree grows in abundance in arid and semi-arid regions of southwest Morocco. This climate suits the species, as it is resistant to drought and heat. In the right conditions, the argan tree can grow as tall as eight or ten meters. This tree is distinguished by its evergreen leaves. However, they are not impervious to harm. An argan tree can fall into decay after a severe drought.
Argan trees in Morocco
In Morocco, there are an estimated 830,000 hectares of argan groves, totaling around 21 million trees. Almost 90% of the rural economy in the argan region is dependent on the argan agroforestry system.
The rehabilitation and protection of this tree in Morocco requires the joint efforts of many bodies, including scientific research centers in Morocco, the Moroccan water and forest management, and women's cooperatives who produce argan oil.
FRÉ is partners with the High Atlas Foundation (HAF), an NGO that works hard to preserve the natural heritage of Morocco, by setting strategies and projects for the purpose of promoting tree planting, especially the argan tree, due to its importance and status among Moroccans.
During the past twenty years, HAF has created 11nurseries, distributed throughout 7 of Morocco’s provinces, in partnership with different national organizations, including the Ministry of Water and Forest, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Jewish Moroccan community, local associations, and Ecosia.
Each nursery has its own story and specific goals.
33,000 argan trees
Since FRÉ was founded, and thanks to our community and to the High Atlas Foundation, we have planted a total of 33,000 argan seeds in the Imagdal nursery, which have had a 100% survival rate. After the allotted time to mature, these seedlings will be distributed to associations andwomen’s cooperativesin the Essaouira province that will grow the trees or extract their oil. Working with four cooperatives to date, the FRÉ-HAF partnership has planted and monitored 806 healthy argan trees, and this monitoring and planting will continue in the late fall of 2020.
We play an important role in encouraging women's argan cooperatives to develop their capacities, increase their products, and use their lands by providing them with argan trees. The women of each cooperative are keen on caring for and irrigating the trees. They protect the groves from deterioration, wilting, and livestock.
The cooperatives benefit from the whole argan tree, not just the oil. Every part and product of the tree is usable and represents a source of income. The shell, before roasting, is used as fodder for livestock. The shell that remains after extracting the oil is used to make soap and cosmetic products (body lotions, shampoo).
Amina, president of “Azoran ouirgane” cooperative, said that “despite the current difficult circumstances and despite the cessation of work in the cooperative because of Coronavirus, I love the cooperative very much.” For her, the cooperative is a home,a place where she lives and feels safe.
Aziza, president of the “Argan Mejji” cooperative, said, “This cooperative is the source of livelihood for 52 women, so that means the cooperative contributes significantly to helping 52 rural families.” For her, establishing this cooperative is a major achievement. It is a message for every woman seeking to help her community financially and socially, as well as environmentally.
The argan tree is thetree of lifefor these communes. Together with HAF, our seedling donations have helped almost 154 rural women in Essaouira to support their families. Each of these women has a fingerprint in promoting sustainable development, not only in the province of Essaouira but in Morocco as a whole.
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