In recent years, Argan Oil has become world renowned for its beauty and health benefits. Once little known outside of Morocco, it has become embraced by the cosmetic industry and increasingly, more manufacturers are putting on their labels ‘Contains Argan Oil’ or ‘Made with Argan Oil’. But what exactly is Argan Oil? Argan oil is a bi-product extracted from kernels inside the fruits of the argan tree and has been produced for centuries by the indigenous Amazigh [plural Imazighen commonly referred to as Berbers] women of Morocco.
The argan forest is very important to the people who inhabited it and subsisted from it for centuries. The argan tree has scientifically been proven to provide substances of great health and medicinal benefits.The important role of women in connection to the argan tree can be used to promote women’s status, capabilities and empowerment.
Life in the argan forest is very different from other areas in Morocco, it is still very traditional and women commonly do not partake in the income-generating workforce. These women employed at argan oil cooperatives have accepted their first job and salary ever. At most cooperatives, the women sit on the floor with a large rock in front of them where they crack argan nuts on using a smaller rock they hold on to. This process requires a special technique and is very labor intensive. Once enough kernels are collected a screw-press machine crunches them and oil is. It usually takes around two to three days to get enough kernels to produce only one litre of oil!