ROME, May 12 (IPS) – A well-deserved break from the midst of so much alarming news, with a brief history of a tree, a bottle of liquid gold and a wedding gift.
Needless to remind you that all trees are wonderful living beings, endowed with an incredible vital system to drain water through their roots, and breathe through their leaves to bring this water to their trunk, their branches and their leaves. .
All are sources of most of the oxygen on Earth while absorbing harmful greenhouse gases. Their roots contribute greatly to fixing the earth, thus reducing the risk of degradation and desertification. Not to mention purifying the air.
This particular tree
Among them, one is special: the argan tree.
Species native to the sub-Saharan region of southwestern Morocco, where it grows in arid and semi-arid areas, this tree is the defining species of a forest ecosystem, also called Arganeraie, rich in endemic flora.
The argan tree once grew throughout North Africa, but currently it only grows in southwestern Morocco. It is estimated to be the second most abundant tree in Moroccan forests, with over 20 million trees living in the region.
The argan tree is one of the world’s wild plants, which is used by an estimated 3.5 to 5.8 billion people, with one billion humans depending on it for their livelihoods and food security.
In addition, wild plants provide great economic and nutritional benefits for these communities and for societies around the world. Indeed, between 2000 and 2020, the value of world trade in medicinal and aromatic plants alone increased by more than 75%, reported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (CAM).
Despite this, two out of five plant species in the world are threatened with extinction due to habitat loss, sustainable use and climate change.
Hidden in plain sight
Here is the case of just one of these wild plant species hidden in plain sight:
Argan can be found in cosmetics, food and pharmaceuticals. Mainly used as an oil, its anti-aging properties are valued for cosmetics, and its demand in the food industry has made it the most expensive edible oil in the world, FAO adds.
Under the hot sun
Now see what the UN says further about its importance on the occasion of the International Argania Day:
- It withstands temperatures up to 50° Celsius.
- It’s a bulwark against desertificationit can reach 10 meters in height and live 200 years.
- Its woodlands offer forest products, fruits and fodder.
- It is leaves and fruit are edible and much appreciated, just like the undergrowth, and constitute a vital fodder reserve for all herds, even in times of drought.
- It is used as firewood for cooking and heating.
- And also like medicines and cosmetics.
A mainstay of the native Berbers
For centuries, the argan tree has been a pillar of indigenous rural communities of Berber and Arab origin, which have developed a specific culture and identity, sharing their traditional knowledge and know-how through non-formal education, in particular knowledge associated with the traditional production of argan oil by women, explains the global body.
The argan-based agro-silvo-pastoral system uses only locally adapted species and pastoral activities and relies on traditional water management provided by the Matifiya – a rainwater reservoir dug into rock, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation, and conservation. of biodiversity.
But there’s more: the world famous argan oil, which is extracted from the seeds and has multiple applications, including in traditional and complementary medicine and in the culinary and cosmetic industries.
In addition, argan oil is given as a wedding gift and it is widely used in the preparation of festive dishes.
The fruit of the argan tree is a green to light yellow berry in the center of which is an almond composed of several seeds full of oil. It takes about 150 kg of fruit to produce 3 liters of argan oil.
Indeed, it is said that since the 13th century, Berber women in North Africa have been making argan oil for culinary and cosmetic purposes.
International Argania Day further explains that the fruits are hand-picked and sun-dried, then pulped, crushed, sorted, crushed and blended. Its nuts are crushed and its almonds crushed to filter the oil.
Women lead the entire extraction process with knowledge passed down from one generation to the next. Indeed, rural women and, to a lesser extent, men living in the reserve practice traditional methods to extract argan oil from the fruit of the tree.
“The traditional know-how specific to the extraction of oil and its multiple uses is systematically transmitted by the ‘argan women’, who teach their daughters from an early age to put it into practice.”
What else would you expect from a tree?
© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service