Taliouine Saffron Morocco
Taliouine, a mountain village, is the heart of the saffron Presidium, situated in a land covered with argan trees (from the village of Assaki down to the sea) on the western side and rose cultivations on the eastern side, towards Ouazarzate.
The historic area of saffron, the oldest in Morocco, is here on the Souktana plateau, 1300-1500 metres above sea level. 11 producers - members of the Coopérative Agicole de Taliouine supported by the Moroccan NGO Migrations et Développement - farm small plots of land (max. surface 1 hectare) and together with their families gather the flowers at dawn, when the petals are still closed between the months of October and November. They place them in a cool room and separate the precious stigmas. Each stage of production is done by hand and natural fertilizers are used. There are no particular varieties of saffron, but apparently the territory of the Souktana plateau, the climate and the producers' know-how are the main reasons for this product being valuable, even though the color is less vivid, its aroma and taste are much more intense than the others. In addition to saffron, medicinal herbs and vegetables are cultivated, while olive trees, almond trees and wild herbs grow at the edges of the fields. The name of the cooperative (Taliouine) derives from the name of the village situated on the plateau and the local souk is the main point of sale for the saffron produced in this area. Traditionally, it was merchants from the sizable Jewish communities in Morocco who sold the saffron, with a particular preference for pistils treated with olive oil. This method has been abandoned following Jewish emigration: now it is Arab and Berber merchants who purchase large quantities of saffron from the producers at small weekly markets, then sell them at the same markets, in large Moroccan towns and the whole of the Maghreb and as far as Europe. Saffron is bought and sold locally at very low prices, which then rise at town markets and in Europe.
Created in 2004 but only operative since autumn 2007, thanks to support from ORMVA (Regional Office of Agricultural Development) and the Franco-Moroccan NGO Migrations et Développement, the Taliouine cooperative brings together 11 producers living near the town.
The cooperative's productive potential is 50 kg of saffron per year, with an average of about 4.5 kg per producer. Current production however is estimated at between 30 and 40 kg.
The Presidium producers keep the saffron in terracotta or glass jars and supply it to the cooperative for selling. Alternatively, they sell it at the souk where intermediaries buy their product at very low prices. By maintaining saffron cultivation, increasing the availability of water and ensuring a fair return for the painstaking manual work of the family, people in Taliouine will be able to remain on their land, thus keeping their traditions and territory. Indeed, over the last few years, saffron has become well known and a research process has been started to obtain the Protected Geographical Indication.
Taliouine, Taroudant province
NGO Migration et Développement
11 producers from the Taliouine Agricultural Cooperative
Mhamed Id Taleb
tel. +212 672613304