No one can deny the nutritional and vital added value that Argan oil presents. It's a multi-beneficial treasure that has been proved effective both in aromatherapy, beauty care as well as fine cuisine.
Throughout this article, we're going to expose the process of production that results in the making of our products, and underline the major role of Moroccan women in the development of the industry.
Artisanal production of the Argan oil
Traditionally, it is the amazigh women from the south of Morocco who prepare the Argan oil to fulfill their families’ daily needs. Whether it’s for culinary needs, medical or cosmetic, the production of 1 liter of this treasure requires what could amount to 8 hours of hard labor. The whole process is elaborated at home in a uninterrupted way.
Fruits of the Argania appear right after the faint rain of autumn. They bloom by spring and fall by June/July, at the youth of summer. They are left under their mother tree to dry.
By August, the fruits are cracked to separate the kernels, which are, later on, crushed by granite stones in order to extract the nuts.
The extracted nuts are furthermore crushed. For the production of culinary argan oil, the nuts would have been grilled beforehand and roasted in an earthenware plate put on the ember. As for the medicinal and cosmetic oil, the nuts wouldn’t have undergone any kind of roasting.
After this operation, a paste is created. It now needs kneading and mixing by adding water. The oil then floats on the added water. The Argan oil finally emerges after all this exhaustive work.
However, this chain production is family business and is rarely ever commercialized.
The major role of women cooperatives in the Argan oil’s production
The natural benefits of the Argan oil have spread in the whole world by the end of the 90's. Before that, this precious production was practiced only and strictly for the needs of the Amazigh families.
It is then that cooperatives emerged, in the region of Essaouira, allowing widows and divorcees to generate revenue in the very same region.
The widowed and divorced women were living in dreadful conditions and they usually had to migrate to big cities, where they took on housemaid jobs and other extreme low work conditions.
Following the success of the Argan oil, they stayed where they grew up and formed cooperatives of production and diffusion of the oil. This proves to be an amazing way to support their families.
These cooperative structures function as associations composed of a president, a treasurer and a secretary elected by vote by each of the cooperative members.
These women insertion structures from southern Morocco are supported by the government because, besides their economical solidarity, they assume promotion initiatives in the profit of women in traditional societies.
For instance, the women of Argan solidarity cooperatives benefit from literacy courses in order to learn how to write and speak.
Overall, the emergence of the argan oil production cooperatives has opened new doors for moroccan women living in need and has drawn new prospects for them, just as much as they did for the industry.
The development of Argan oil production cooperatives turned out to be an engine of social improvement, by offering new professional perspectives to women in the region. As soon as they’ve learned the man is not necessary to performing tasks that they seem to excel in, they’ve acquired skills and learned how to put their competences upfront, rather than taking on their classical role in the household.
These cooperatives are, yet again, absolutely engaged in the flourishing of the Argan oil industry.
The number if moroccan women implicated in the well-functioning of solidarity cooperatives has increased notably, not only in the production but in the process of diffusion as well. This last decade, the phenomenon has taken shape, under the pressure of an everlasting increasing demand. The number of cooperatives has gone from 738 in 2008 to 1756 in 2013. Today, more than 3 million people live off the Argan culture in Morocco.