About the Project 

The project is the first of its kind in the Messguina forest, located in the southwestern part of Morocco. The project consists of 2 different sites, measuring 10 hectares each. 

Combined this is 20 hectares, or 40 football fields if you like. The project started in March 2016 and will continue till the trees are grown. The main part of the work will end in March 2018 and new projects will get started. 

 
The main activities in the Messguina project are:

  • Growing and planting argan trees. Fencing in the area to protect the trees from animals.
  • Rehabilitation of trees, pruning and trimming of existing Argan trees in the area 
  • Technical and practical training to the locals on regenerating Argan trees for use in their own living area
  • Literacy training to local women in the project area
  • Provide training programs to female workers at Argan oil cooperatives on production management, quality control, traceability, marketing and communication
  • Organizing workshops on sustainable management of the Argan forest
  • Organizing practical workshops of seedling growing and plantation 
  • Spread knowledge and awareness on the importance of the Argan forest internationally

 

How the activities will be conducted:

  • Through workshops and practical training
  • Argan Care will together with its partner organization in Morocco, Ibn Al Baytar, conduct all the activities together with the locals. No work will be outsourced or subcontracted to other companies
  • Training on management, quality control, communication and other useful business skills will be given women working at argan oil cooperatives in the area

 

The goals that will be achieved through the activities 

  • The locals will be more engaged in the preservation efforts of the argan forest through training activities. These skills will be of high value to the people and coming generations after the project discontinues
  • The project participants will set up fences around the areas the trees are planted to ensure the trees are protected from animals
  • The project participants will have the proper knowledge on how to harvest the argan fruits without causing damage to the tree
  • Training for female workers at argan oil cooperative will increase the production cycle and sales
  • The above mentioned knowledge will generate income to the locals through these activities

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The argan forest is a unique ecosystem with the combination of subtropical temperatures and mist from the Atlantic Ocean. The forest gained UNESCO recognition in 1998 when it became protected as a World Biosphere Reserve. The tree is very hard to transplant which makes reforestation efforts difficult and almost impossible to grow on a valuable scale outside of Morocco.

Today, the argan forest is diminishing rapidly and stands in great danger of eventually disappearing. During the course of the last century alone, the argan forest’s area has diminished by more than half while tree density in some areas is sixty-percent lower than it was only fifty years ago.

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For centuries, the indigenous Amazigh women of Morocco have produced organ oil for culinary and cosmetic purposes to treat various ailments. Argan oil is a bi-product extracted from kernels inside the fruits of the argan tree.

The oil has traditionally been made within Amazigh households exclusively by manual labor using stone hand grinders. The oil was, and still is in some cases, sold by the women’s spouses and children on the side of the road or at the local markets, often highly underpriced, making the oil just a supplement to the household income.

 

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The goats in Morocco are exceptionally good at climbing and love the argan nuts and the leaves. Part of our project is to educate the herders of the damage of this to the trees and why this is a problem and find ways to avoid it.