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The Argan forest Saharan bee
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Beekeeping

UCFA
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Melvita

 

The project is implemented in a UNESCO-classified biosphere reserve, namely the argan forest area in the Moroccan region of Souss-Tensift between Essaouira and Agadir.

The area is home to the iconic Argania spinosa, an endemic species from which argan oil is produced, an ancestral product traditionally used in Morocco for cosmetic and culinary purposes. Argan forests are an original and unique ecosystem at the global level and holds a high cultural and heritage value. Local communities demonstrate strong commitment to the argan tree despite all the constraints associated with its exploitation, whether natural or socio-economic.

Historically, aragan forests provided honey, produced with care by a bee subspecies (Apis mellifera sahariensis) that has become threatened with disappearance pursuant to anti-locust treatments and voluntary introduction or transhumance of Tellian bees or “black bees”.

Major issues

 

The aragan forest ecosystem has become highly sensitive due to the combined loss of biodiversity and soil and non-rational exploitation of natural resources. In the past, this forest constituted a dense natural forest of the Mediterranean coastal area.

The preservation of this exceptional heritage that represents almost 10% of Morocco's forest area is crucial for the ecosystem and the rural communities that rely on the Moroccan High Atlas’ resources, particularly women farmers. Aragan fruits give an oil that is highly sought after on the national and international markets and the aragan forest area is estimated to have shrunk by half over the last century due to increasing pressure resulting from demand and human activities.

Maintaining biodiversity in this environment is therefore fundamental to address both environmental and economic issues in the region. 

 

 

 

The project and the prospects for change

 

The project aims to reduce pressure on the argan forest by diversifying the sources of income of argan producers, including through the promotion of beekeeping (training in marketing). Indeed, rural communities in southern Morocco remain poor despite the encouraging development that the argan sector brings for women in the region and honey is one of the very few other business opportunities for these communities. 

As such, the development of beekeeping will diversify income while reducing pressures on the ecosystem and allowing for replenishing Saharan bee populations. 

As such, the project objectives are :

  • Support women who are independent honey producers in the Berber village of Tafdena (Essaouira) and promote conservation of indigenous melliferous plants in the area;
  • Explore the possibilities of creating a beekeeping promotion space within the existing commercial structure for argan to benefit women in the village of Mejji (Essaouira);
  • Develop beekeeping to the benefit of women in the cooperatives of Argamar and Ifrawne N'Lhanna in Taroudant in order to diversify their resources;
  • Boost the local economy in the village of Zaouia Nahlia by enhancing the historical and cultural heritage strongly associated with beekeeping.

 

Committed partners 

 

The UCFA is the first union of women’s cooperatives in Morocco, that aims to support cooperatives by strengthening the marketing of the member cooperatives’  TISSALIWINE brand products, which cover the entire argan forest area: Agadir - Idaoutanan, Tiznit, Taroudant, Chtouka Ait Baha and Essaouira.

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To learn more about this project and its 2018 key achievements, please click on this link.

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