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.
Taliouine, Taroudant province
NGO Migration et Développement
Rachid El Hiyani
tel. +212 671347069