The village of Zerradoun is a group of scattered houses in the foothills of the Rif mountains in northeastern Morocco. Zerradoun has one feature that distinguishes it from other villages in the area. Situated between two valleys surrounded by mountains and fields of durum wheat and barley lie two sources of salt water. The salt pans, surrounded by dry-stone walls to hold the salt water while it evaporates, are at least 200 years old. Women, members of the Al Wifak association, run the production process and collect the salt as they did in the past.
The salt extraction process is simple but time-consuming. Water from the saline source is poured into a tank for the first evaporation, then transferred to the pans and left for five days. More water is added to the saline mush and the mixture left to dry for another two days.
Salt production starts towards mid-May and continues for three or four months, depending on the weather conditions (a lot of sun is needed). It is concentrated seasonal work, with a cycle from salt water to crystalline salt taking about one week.
The only innovations to the traditional process are the use of a pump to transfer water from the source to the tank or pans, the tank itself (used for the first evaporation) and the use of plastic sheets in the pans to assure hygienic conditions and simplify the work.
Apart from kitchen salt, which is currently the most important product, scented bath salts are also produced by adding essential oils of lavender, mint and menthol, along with an exfoliating product made of salt, green clay, sodium bicarbonate and eucalyptus oil.
While the cosmetic products are fairly recent, the sale of kitchen salt is a long-standing tradition at the local Saturday market.
The Presidium works to improve the product, purchase equipment for grinding the salt, provide storage and commercialization assistance, particularly on the local market for the different types of salt. The Presidium aims to organize literacy courses and training in using the equipment so the 30 producers can work independently.
The cooperative is working with the Univers sel association, a small group of French producers of Guérande salt. By providing their skills and knowledge, the producers are working to help improve the quality and distribution of Zerradoun salt.
Zerradoun, Brikcha municipality, Tangier-Tetuan-Al Hoceima region
Univers Sel Association
tel. +212 668568235