Due to its geographical location, Morocco is susceptible to long periods of droughts and water shortages. The Moroccan government partnered with civil society to plant 800,000 trees by 2024 to improve climate issues and agriculture. As a country that experienced the unemployment rate rising to 12.3% in 2021, planting fruit trees in Morocco is one of the solutions to boost its economy by creating an oasis in the desert.
Reforestation in Morocco and its Benefits
Fruit tree planting in Morocco can reduce poverty by providing income for local farmers. There is a wide variety of fruit trees in the country ranging from olives, argan and dates to carob, cashew nuts and more. Its shallow, rocky soils and Mediterranean climate are perfect for these fruits to grow.
For example, the planting of argan trees has played an important role in improving the Moroccan economy. Argan extracted from the trees goes toward producing argan oil, which is rich in fatty acids and antioxidants and is designed for culinary, cosmetic and medicinal purposes. The demand for Moroccan argan oil is growing; the market for argan oil is expected to reach $262.4 million by 2025.
According to The National Agency for the Development of Oasis and Argan Zones, “The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of oases and argan trees in Morocco increased from MAD 84 billion to MAD 129 billion (€7.88 billion to €12.1 billion) between 2009 and 2018.”
In addition, locals are able to receive jobs from the reforestation. It was uncommon for women in Morocco to work outside. However, to keep up with the growing business of argan from the planting argan trees, local women joined and changed the social perception about women’s roles within the society, improving the livelihoods of women in the region.
Charrouf, who established a movement of women cooperatives, told CNN how local women’s lives improved after the business. “Before they didn’t get any money, but now they have at least €100 ($108) per month,” she said. And they were very grateful because their children were finally able to receive an education by earning a decent wage.
Tree Planting Programs in Morocco
Two major organizations are providing programs related to planting fruit trees in Morocco. This ensures sustainable development and helps expedite the growth of its economy.
- Reforest’Action — In 2017, it started running several projects with the Ibn Al Baytar Association across Morocco with the objective of promoting economic development through harvesting organic fruits. The organization made significant progress during the planting season from 2020 to 2021. It also helps raise awareness of planting fruit trees among local communities through participatory planting sessions.
- High Atlas Foundation (HAF) — HAF assists local families by planting fruit trees through collaboration with communities. According to the HAF report published in 2021, “HAF-community collaboration has planted 700,000 trees of nine fruit varieties, with 6,000 farming families in 39 provinces.” The collaboration also planted 1.6 million seeds in 13 nurseries located in eight provinces.
Planting fruit trees in Morocco has brought economic benefits in a sustainable way. Local farmers and communities are able to generate income and enjoy self-sustainability through the programs assisted by the organizations. In the middle of the desert, an oasis is growing and benefiting the nation.
– Jiaying Guo