‘Red Gold’ Lifts Women Out of Poverty in Morocco’s Rural Communities.

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With the cultivation of saffron, Moroccan women living in rural communities have successfully overcome poverty and social and developmental vulnerability. The planting of this pricey crop popularly known as “red gold” has supported these women to become more financially independent and more involved in their local communities.

Many women’s lives in southern Morocco’s rural areas have improved, especially in Taliouine, which is referred to as “the saffron capital” of the nation. The goal of the Moroccan government is to increase saffron production, which is one of the most expensive and valuable spices worldwide.

Numerous parts of Morocco are well-known for their “red gold,” one of which is Taliouine, a town in the southern Taroudant province that is regarded as the nation’s saffron capital. In addition, saffron is grown in the town of Imilchil and the surrounding area of Taznakht, as well as in the Ikniouen commune in the southeast of the nation’s Tinghir province.

Production Process

Local Taliouine farmer Abdul Majid Ogelli describes the agricultural cycle of saffron cultivation in the area’s fields in an interview with Independent Arabia. He says, “Every year, it all starts in July or August with the first stage of weeding the fields to remove excessive and harmful weeds.”

As men and women on the field are all too aware, he says, this is an important stage. Many people are not aware of the procedures that must be followed in order to cultivate saffron.

He goes on, “The second stage of saffron manufacturing entails collecting saffron blossoms in October and November, and this task is typically performed by women. The harvest is very demanding and calls for a great deal of perseverance and labor.

The next step involves drying the red saffron crocus. Next, women employed in agricultural cooperatives refine the product by removing the red stigmas from the purple blossom of this valuable plant. Saffron is packed for retail sales in the last stage.

In remote Amazigh tribes, women are frequently tasked with harvesting while males tend to the plant’s bulbs. Women who labor in the “red gold” crop have come to define it, and this line of employment has helped many women in various ways, including emotionally, socially, and financially.

A Way to Alleviate Poverty

The leader of a women’s saffron cooperative, Fatima Takrkoucht, gave an explanation of why women participate more in the harvest than males. She stated that the primary cause was the tenacity of women in rural Amazigh villages, which enabled them to bear the arduous labor and lengthy hours associated with gathering and refining.

She went on to say that the woman who was picking saffron mostly worked for an agricultural cooperative and had to get up early in order to gather the saffron from the fields before daybreak. After that, they have to spend the evenings working on peeling the blooms.

She clarified that a large number of rural women had previously been unemployed and had just stayed at home, awaiting supplies and rations from their fathers, brothers, or spouses, if they were single or widowed. However, working with saffron increased their independence.

According to Takrkoucht, women who produce “red gold” now earn a meager but adequate living wage that covers their basic needs. Additionally, they work at a job that gives them a way out of unemployment.

The production of saffron in Morocco’s marginalized areas has opened up economic options that have helped women working in agricultural cooperatives combat poverty, unemployment, and home vulnerability. In addition, these women now have greater status in their households.

The Ministry of Agriculture of Morocco reports that the nation produces nearly 6 tonnes of saffron annually. Together with an economic interest group including 15 cooperatives, the sector’s professional organizational network comprises 42 cooperatives with 3041 members.

Morocco ranks fourth globally in terms of saffron production. By 2030, the nation hopes to have expanded its saffron crop to 3,000 hectares and produce 13.5 tons of the spice.

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