A high-level panel was organized for this purpose under the chairmanship of Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Morocco to the UN, Omar Hilale, with the participation, via a pre-recorded video, the Minister of Agriculture, Maritime Fisheries, Rural Development and Water and Forests, Mohamed Sadiki, as well as the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Amina Mohammed, the Director of the office of UNESCO in New York and the Director of the Division of Management and Administration at UN-Women.
Also participating via videoconference were the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Director of the Country Programming Division of the Green Climate Funds (GCF).
Speaking at the opening of this meeting, Hilale stressed that this international day is an “invitation” to celebrate a mythical tree that makes the distinction of Morocco, as well as to highlight its important contribution to the socio-economic development of people especially in rural areas.
He noted that the proclamation of this day by the UN General Assembly in March 2021 reflects the mobilization of the international community for the preservation and development of the argan tree, this symbol of resilience and biodiversity that serves a range of objectives under the UN Sustainable Development Agenda 2030.
Saying to be happy to see this day celebrated for the third consecutive year with the effective involvement of various stakeholders and international partners, the diplomat noted that Morocco aims to make this celebration a “catalyst” for international cooperation in order to support the socio-economic fabric of the argan and promote the empowerment of women and entrepreneurs, especially in rural areas.
It is also to cooperate more, in this context, with civil society actors, scientists and local producers to create value in this important sector, he added.
For his part, the Minister of Agriculture, Maritime Fisheries, Rural Development and Water and Forests stressed that the celebration of the International Day of the Argan Tree represents the culmination of efforts of Morocco, under the wise leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, to achieve the integrated development of the biosphere reserve of the argan, which is the first in Morocco to be recognized by UNESCO.
This is a recognition of the importance of the effective role of the argan tree in the preservation of local ecosystems, despite climate change and negative anthropogenic effects, noting that the agro-sylvo-pastoral system based on the argan tree has been recognized by the FAO as an agricultural heritage system of global importance because of integrated agroforestry practices.
Sadiki noted that Morocco has adopted strategies, programs and projects committed to rehabilitate and develop the biosphere reserve of the argan tree, stressing that the agricultural development strategy, “Green Morocco Plan”, implemented between 2008 and 2020, has favored a strong sectoral approach implemented through the “program contract argan” between professionals and the state.
Referring to key achievements that have contributed significantly to the restoration and effective preservation of natural capital, the Minister cited support for the inclusive restructuring of the value chain, the structuring of actors in the inter-professional organization and the mobilization of applied scientific research.
He also said that more than 180,000 hectares of argan forests have been rehabilitated, and 10,000 hectares of argan orchards have been planted in partnership with the Green Climate Fund (GCF), pointing out that this approach has strengthened the “nationally determined contribution” of the Kingdom in reducing emissions and adaptation to climate change.
He noted that more than 850 women’s cooperatives and 500 private companies are active mainly in the processing, development and marketing of products of the argan tree, adding that a turnover of over 100 million dollars was achieved in 2022, while the value of exports to the international market has reached 38 million dollars.
According to the Minister, the development of the sector of the argan tree is based primarily on Génération Green 2020-2030 and Forests of Morocco 2020-2030 strategies. These two strategies aim to continue the planting program of 50,000 hectares by 2030, and rehabilitation of 400,000 hectares of forest area according to a sustainable management model based primarily on contractualization for the participatory protection of the vital area of the argan, improving productivity, boosting exports of Argan oil and promoting scientific research, he noted.
It is also to produce 10,000 tons of argan oil and 50% of argan oil in bottles by 2030, concluded the official.
For his part, the director of the National Agency for the Development of Oasis and Argan (Andzoa), Brahim Hafidi said that Morocco, aware of the undeniable value of this green heritage, has embarked early in the preservation and development of this unique tree, deciding, in accordance with the High Royal Instructions, the creation on November 11, 2009, this national agency.
The Andzoa ensures to accompany large areas oasis and Argan through the guarantee of access to basic services (electricity, drinking water, road development) and the contribution to the sectors of education and health, as well as economic activities, including agriculture, he said.
In commemoration of this international day celebrated on May 10 each year, a two-week photo exhibition highlighting the argan tree was inaugurated at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The photos, which are the work of Said Oubrahim and Fadel Brahim, give an overview of the specifics of this tree listed as intangible cultural heritage of humanity and is an ancestral source of sustainable development and resilient.
Similarly, a reception was held in honor of the community of ambassadors and officials of the United Nations system, to taste the products of the Argan and discover the offer of local Moroccan cooperatives, and this to the rhythms of the Moroccan ancestral music of Gnawa.