Argan oil is a fabulously expensive oil produced from the nuts found in the droppings of goats which eat the fruit, even climbing the trees to ‘graze’. It is highly valued for nutritional, medicinal and cosmetic purposes.
The Argan tree is only found naturally in the area of Morocco between Essaouira and Agadir in an area known as Arganeraie and is perfectly adapted to the climate of the region. The trees have been in decline for sometime however due to over grazing by the goats and felling for firewood by impoverished locals. UNESCO and the Moroccan government have created reserves in an attempet to protect the trees.
This scarcity and labourious method of production ensure it is greatly prized and demands a high price for its purchase.
The method of production has remained unchanged for many generations of Berbers. The nuts are gathered and hand ground by co-operatives of women who sit on the ground each completing a step of the process which usually provides one litre of oil in approximately twenty hours.
The women of the co-operative we visited were very friendly, happy to pose for photographs and giggled like school girls when viewing the resulting image. It provided an endearing and long lasting memory of Essaouira.
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