The 3rd edition of the Argan International Congress was launched Thursday in Agadir, with the participation of national and international academics , researchers and actors working in the production and marketing of argan oil and its derivatives.
Organized from 17 to 19 December under the patronage of S. M. King Mohammed VI, this congress aims at sharing scientific and technical knowledge between national and international researchers, forest managers, economic stakeholders and development institutions, contributing to the implementation of the argan program on sound scientific bases.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of this international conference, the Minister of Agriculture and Maritime Fishing, Mr. Aziz Akhannouch, emphasized the importance of this scientific meeting for the argan tree that covers an area of about 830,000 hectares and benefits 3.5 million people, in addition to its contribution to the preservation of ecosystems and the fight against desertification.
Mr. Aziz Akhannouch, in this context, recalled the efforts for the development of the sector of the argan tree, focusing on the creation of the National Agency for the development of oasis zones and Argan (ANDZOA) that works for the development and implementation of integrated development programs and promotes scientific research.
He noted that the International Congress of the argan tree, which is held every two years, is the exchange of knowledge and dissemination of research results to develop accurate and capable scientific programs to develop and maintain the sector of the argan tree.
For its part, the Wali of the Souss-Massa region, governor of the prefecture of Agadir Idda Outanane, Mme Zineb El Adaoui, stressed the symbolic dimension of the argan tree that reflects the identity of the Souss-Massa region, recalling the challenges for the preservation of the argan tree and sustainability of the sector.
The Congress was organized by ANDZOA in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Maritime Fishing, the High Commission for Water and Forests and the National Agricultural Research Institute. Several Moroccan researchers and specialists, Arab and foreigners, took part.
NEARLY 3 billion dirhams REHABILITATION OF THE AREA OF VITAL ARGAN TREE
The Director General of the National Agency for the development of oasis zones and Argan (ANDZOA), Mr. Hafidi Ibrahim, said Thursday in Agadir : « An investment of 2.8 billion dirhams will be allocated to the rehabilitation of the living space of the argan tree of a total area of 830,000 hectares for a period of 10 years. »
Speaking at the opening of the 3rd International Conference on argan,Mr. Hafidi Ibrahim said the various projects and operations of this work were scheduled in the program contract signed in 2011, the execution of which was started in 2013 after extensive consultation that involved all stakeholders.
« The objectives of this program include the rehabilitation of an area of 200,000 hectares over 10 years, the creation of modern farms with the ajm of integrating the argan tree as farming culture, in addition to increasing production of argan oil to 10,000 tons by 2020, instead of 4000 tonnes currently », he said. The official also noted that the rehabilitation of nearly 12,000 hectares of argan trees started in 2015, and that farms with an area of 3,000 hectares have already expressed interest to integrate the culture of argan tree.
He, at the same time, presented the mission of the Agency in the preservation and promotion of argan trees, citing the completion of technical studies, socio-economic and environmental development of the sector of the argan tree, in addition to the creation of economic interest groups in favor of the industry workers.
He added that so far the Agency has created 11 groups, 30 large cooperatives and made the labeling of argan products.
Mr. Ibrahim Hafidi has also reviewed several projects managed by the Agency for the promotion of the sector, including the proposed establishment of a national center of the argan tree, which will aim to coordinate scientific research for the argan tree, the monitoring of the program’s contract and the creation of a heritage museum of the argan tree.
With regard to scientific research, he noted that the Agency has established a network of 125 researchers in different levels of the sector in addition to the encouragement of young researchers, welcoming in this regard the contribution of several companies through scholarships encouraging scientific research in the area.
The conference opening ceremony was marked by the signing of two agreements in support of the rehabilitation of the argan tree for the period 2016-2018 and the promotion of scientific research about the argan tree . The conference that will continue until Saturday is organized by the National Agency for the development of Oasis Zones and Argan, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Maritime Fishing, the High Commission for Water and Forests and the fight against desertification and the National Institute for Agricultural research.