Arganoil and the Berbers

The production and consumption of argan oil has a rich past. When we dive into the history of Argan oil, we come out to the Berbers. Or even more specific: the Berber women. The Berber women, the first-ever producers of argan oil, is where it began thousands of years back. They are the discoverers of the special properties of the oil. Not by examining the oil scientifically, but simply by using the oil. It is also not for nothing that the name ‘ Tree of Beauty ‘, which refers to the argan trees in, was conceived by these Berber women. Argan oil is an oil with many uses, so discovered the Berbers. The Berber tribe used the Argan oil not only for cosmetic purposes, but also for medicinal purposes. The oil was even put into use for medicinal purposes. Today, the positive effect of argan oil has been scientifically researched and confirmed.

Free and Noble men

Even before the Arabs came to live in Morocco, the Berbers were already inhabitants of this country. It is believed that the culture of the Berbers has existed for some 4000 years, including the traditions. The Berbers also called themselves ‘ Amaziah ‘ or ‘ Imazighen ‘. Freely translates this means ‘ free and noble men ‘.

Traditional production process

The traditional production process of argan oil is very labor intensive. The whole process – from picking the fruits to pressing the oil – took 22 hours. The production of Argan oil takes place traditionally in the south of Morocco. After all, this is the only place where the argan trees in grows. In this dry, warm and mountainous landscape, the Berber women gathered ripe fruits from the argan trees in.

They broke the skin by striking two stones on the hard fruit. The splitting of the rind required a lot of power from the Berber women.

After removing the flesh, the argan kernels were extracted from the fruit. Each fruit contains only 2 to 3 pips and here it was the Berber women all to do. These pips are packed with argan oil.

Before this oil was to be used, some things had to happen. To squeeze the argan oil out of the kernels, a stone hand mill was used.

The substance was then kneaded, after which the argan oil emerged.

Moroccan cooperatives

The production of Argan oil has been managed and performed by Berber tribes for centuries. Traditionally, Moroccan women worked mainly indoors, but times changed. The demand for argan oil increased, and women were given a significant role in the production process. Berber women began to establish Moroccan cooperatives, which still exist. These cooperatives consist exclusively of women. These women work together to preserve the argan trees and ensure a sustainable production process.

Good for the status of Berber women

These Moroccan women cooperatives have even more advantages. For example, the cooperatives are very useful for the social and economic status of the Berber women living near Argan orchards. The women who work in such a Moroccan cooperative have a source of income thanks to cooperatives. They can thus provide their families with a livelihood. These women cooperatives are therefore of positive influence on the lives of thousands of families in Morocco.

World Heritage List

Since the argan oil is of great value, you would expect people to respectfully deal with the argan trees. Unfortunately, not everyone thought so. Over the last 100 years, about 10 million trees have been cut down. At present, some 20 million trees are growing. Fortunately, these trees are well cared for. Nowadays it is forbidden to argan trees and even a high penalty. This does not mean that the argan trees in is still threatened with extinction. For this reason, UNESCO decided in 1999 to add this special tree to the UNESCO World Heritage List: The Worlds Heritage listed in English. Also, several other organizations try to counter everything they can to prevent further decrease in the number of argan trees. This will hopefully allow us to continue to enjoy the special and positive features of argan oil.