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International Day of Argania 2024 Observed on 10th May

On May 10 every year, people around the world celebrate the International Day of Argania. This special day honours the Argan tree (Argania spinosa), an ancient species that has grown in Morocco for about 80 million years. These trees are not just old; they play a crucial role in the local economy and environment. The celebration aims to increase awareness about these unique trees, their benefits, and the challenges they face.

The Argan tree is a native species of the sub-Saharan region of Morocco, growing in arid and semi-arid areas. It’s the defining species of a woodland ecosystem, also known as Arganeraie, which is rich in endemic flora. It is resilient to harsh environments with water scarcity, erosion risk, and poor soils.

The Arganeraie ecosystem is not only important for conservation but also for research and socio-economic development due to its forestry, agricultural, and livestock use. The argan tree woodlands provide forest products, fruits, and fodder. The leaves and fruits are edible and highly appreciated, as is the undergrowth, and constitute a vital fodder reserve for all herds, even in periods of drought. The trees are also used as fuelwood for cooking and heating.

The World-Renowned Argan Oil

The world-famous argan oil is extracted from the seeds and has multiple applications, especially in traditional and complementary medicine, and in the culinary and cosmetic industries.

The Argan Tree: A Fundamental Pillar for Sustainable Development

The argan tree is typically a multipurpose tree that supports income generation, increases resilience, and improves climate adaptation, playing a crucial role in achieving the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social, and environmental – at the local level.

The sustainable argan production sector contributes to the economic empowerment and financial inclusion of local communities, especially women living in rural areas. Cooperatives are instrumental in promoting local job opportunities and can play an important role in contributing to food security and eradicating poverty.

For centuries, the argan tree has been a mainstay of the Berber and Arab-origin indigenous rural communities, which developed a specific culture and identity, sharing their traditional knowledge and skills through non-formal education, particularly the unique knowledge associated with the traditional production of argan oil by women.

The unique argan-based agro-forestry-pastoral system uses only locally adapted species and pastoralism activities and relies on traditional water management provided by the Matifiya (a rain water reservoir carved into rock), hence contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation, and to the conservation of biodiversity.

Recognition and Protection

This unique region, where argan trees have been cultivated for centuries, combines agricultural biodiversity, resilient ecosystems, and valuable cultural heritage. For that reason, it has received recognition and protection from various UN entities.

  • The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated the endemic production area as the Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve in 1988.
  • All know-how concerning the argan tree was inscribed in 2014 on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
  • In December 2018, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recognized the Argan-based agro-sylvo-pastoral system within the area of Ait Souab – Ait Mansour in Morocco as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System.
  • In 2021, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed May 10 as the International Day of Argania. The resolution, submitted by Morocco, was co-sponsored by 113 member states and adopted by consensus.

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