Argan Tree and Cooperatives – Intangible Assets for Sustainable Development

10 May 2022

The International Cooperative Alliance joins the international community in marking the 2nd International Day of Argania, celebrated globally on May 10. The Argan tree (Argania spinosa), found in the sub-Saharan region of Morocco is acknowledged globally for its multiple applications, especially in traditional and complementary medicine, and in culinary and cosmetic industries. The extraction process of Argan oil, hailed as the liquid gold of Morocco, is led by rural women through knowledge transmitted from one generation to the next.  Argan practices and sustainable argan production contribute to the economic empowerment and financial inclusion of local communities, especially women living in rural areas.

The UN General Assembly decided to declare an International Day dedicated to the Argan tree through its Resolution 75/262 on March 3, 2021, where it acknowledged cooperatives in the argan field as instrumental in promoting local job opportunities, food security and eradicating poverty, and hence in achieving the SDGs.

The United Nations also noted “Argan, practices and know-how concerning the argan tree” was inscribed in 2014 on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO, which recognized the legal and institutional frameworks for creating cooperatives and associations and museums as measures to safeguard the heritage. The Resolution further noted the FAO in 2018 recognized argan-based agropastoral system as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems initiative.

It bears recall that the very idea and practice of organizing shared interests into cooperatives was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative list as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2016. The 33rd ICA World Cooperative Congress on Deepening our Cooperative Identity organized a parallel session on Cooperative Culture and Safeguarding Cultural Heritage, which featured Cooperative Af Toudarte in Morocco. Read more about the session here and watch the recording of the session here. Watch a film produced by on featuring women cooperators of Cooperative Af Toudarte here.

On the occasion of the International Women’s Day in March 2021, the Government of Morocco’s Office du Développment de la Coopération, an ICA Member, co-organzied the 3rd edition of the Lalla Al Moutaaouina National Prize for the idea for the development of female cooperative project, which recognized the contribution of women cooperatives in Argan sector. Most recently, it was reported Morocco invested USD 10.7 Billion on Oasis and Argan Zones.

We congratulate the Government of Morocco and the ICA Africa on the International Day of Argania, and join them in celebrating the wonders of the Agran tree and its contribution to Sustainable Development.

We appreciate both the government of Morocco and the United Nations for the recognition and annual international celebration of the Argania tree. This will boost the activities of our women engaged in cooperatives dealing with Argania tree and help preserve this cultural heritage for generations to come', has said Sifa Chiyoge, ICA Africa Director. 

Know more about the International Day of Argania here.

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