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Save the Moroccan pistachio trees!

Souhad Azennoud in front of a pistachio tree. Photo: Jamila Loukili


Less pistachio trees are cut down thanks to KHNA’s micro intervention

In the Moroccan pre-Rif mountains near Taounate, 100-year-old pistachio trees, whose ecological and economic benefits are largely unknown, are often cut down. The farmers cutting them down hope to gain more space for their crops, but they forgot that the trees hold together the soil of the mountains and prevent erosion.

In 2010, Souhad Azennoud, a former senior manager in a multinational company and an agroecology activist since 2000, attended a conference on fruit forests. This is where she learned that this endemic pistachio tree plays a double role: it protects the soil from erosion and, when grafted, it produces edible pistachios, which are profitable trade products. She also learned that the fruit can be processed into pistachio oil, a raw material much in demand in the cosmetics industry.

As a KHNA Rural Service Provider, Souhad is one of the 472 KHNA multipliers and integrates the economic dimension into her advocacy. In her micro interventions, she shows farmers the grafting techniques of the pistachio tree and equips the local populations with solid arguments for safeguarding the pistachio tree of the Atlas and its valorisation.

Today, 80% of the inhabitants of the area don’t cut down pistachio trees anymore. But Souhad dreams even bigger. She hopes to develop a new organic and ecological industry with the fruits of the pistachio tree. This would create opportunities for more people, especially for the region’s young people.

  • This story was originally published on the KCOA Newsletter – Issue no. 3.

Editors/ Authors: KHNA and GIZ-KCOA

KCOA Editor
Author: KCOA Editor



One Response

  1. This is inspiring work! When I was studying in the rainforest communities of Guatemala for my Masters in Regional and International Development at UCLA back in 1998 to 2000 and for several years into my Ph.D. (whereupon I switched to the MENA region, living in Egypt for 5 years) I was helping to create a multi-species agroforestry plantation and agro-eco-tourism site based on indigenous uses of the fruits, seeds and leaves of the Maya Breadnut tree (Brosimum alicastrum) . The women in the community were also fighting hard to keep the trees from being cut down by starting micro-enterprises for the revival of “tree cereals” and we were helping to build a demand for the products by bringing student groups to the region who would be appreciative ambassadors of the project.
    I was inspired to do these projects because my grandmother’s family had a pistachio farm in the hills of Lebanon when I was a child and my wife’s family grows olives, almonds and pistachios in her village in the West Bank, Palestine.
    I applaud Souhad and would love to synergize my work as the director of the USF Patel College of Global Sustainability’s Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Concentration with yours.
    I am applying for a Fulbright Scholar Fellowship to teach and do research in Morocco next year and would love to connect with the work that she and all of you are doing!
    Dr. T.H. Culhane

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