FAO Liaison Office in New York

FAO hails argan as SDGs champion


The extraordinary beneficial properties of the argania tree and the potential of the argan production sector in achieving sustainable development were showcased in the “Argania, Ancestral Source of Sustainable Development” event, which was hosted in the United Nations headquarters by the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United Nations in New York. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) co-sponsored the event, along with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and the World Health Organization.

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Omar Hilake, Permanent Representative of Morocco, noted the social and economic dimensions of argan. “Approximately three million Moroccans base their livelihoods on argan production, many of them rural women working in cooperatives,” said Hilale.

Carla Mucavi, Director of the FAO liaison office in New York, referred to the rare argan tree as “the Sustainable Development Goals champion”, as it “provides an excellent opportunity to support income generation, build resilience and enhance climate adaptation, especially in view of the increased market opportunities linked to argan oil.”

Endemic to Morocco, argan trees are cultivated using ancient agroforestry practices like the Matifya -a rainwater reservoir carved into a rock. These dry-stone terraces are extremely resilient to water scarcity and soil erosion. In December 2018, FAO recognized the area between the argan agro-pastoral systems of Ait Souab and Ait Mansour in Morocco as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS), owing to its outstanding landscapes that combine agricultural biodiversity, resilient ecosystems and a valuable cultural heritage. “GIAHS serve as inspiration to all of us when it comes to protecting unique ecosystems and preserving biodiversity to save the planet for future generations,” said Mucavi.

UNESCO has classified all know-how concerning the argan tree as intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

Carla Mucavi’s speech can be found in our Statements webpage.

For more information on GIAHS, you can visit FAO’s dedicated website.