Elderly woman living in the Argan Oil area in SW Morocco


 The Argan Women

The principle bearers of this know-how, employed throughout all the stages of the argan oil extraction and in the methods of exploiting this oil, are primarily rural women living in the Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve in south-west Morocco.

The women retain the mastery of the techniques for extracting the oil as well as the secrets of the preparation of medicinal recipes which have characterised local pharmacopoeia for centuries.

In order to extract the Argan almond from its nut, Berber women sit behind a flat base rock and use a pebble stone to knock off first the dried pulp and then the shells off the Argan nut.

This short video shows Sultana, member of one of our Women's Cooperative in SW Morocco, removing dried pulp from argan fruit. Opening the argan nuts in order to flip out the Argan oil-rich kernels need a separate manual production step.



Men take part infrequently

However, men can take part, although infrequently, particularly during the first stage involving harvesting the fruit, especially when the trees are a long distance from homes, and during the final stage with regard to marketing the product in remote markets.

 

Berber men help transport argan fruit in remote areas     Berber men manufacture hand mills used to produce culinary argan oil 

 

On the other hand, men play an exclusive role in the manufacture of the hand mills used for the milling of the argan kernels. It is a fairly rare trade that also requires particular know-how and skill. As for the crafting of local wicker baskets, it is carried out by men and women alike.

Argan Oil know-how transmitted from mother to daughter

Moreover, the transmission of traditional know-how specific to the extraction of the oil and its multiple uses is systematically ensured by the women, who teach their daughters to skilfully handle the different tools used (the hammer, anvil and hand mill) and the different processes mentioned above from a young age.