For years now, there has been a significant increase in demand for Argan oil due to its versatile benefits in culinary and cosmetic industry. Although there is high demand for Argan products in Morocco and other parts of the world, it is unfortunate that Argan trees are only grown in Morocco.
Traditionally, the Berber women undertook very labor-intensive jobs in order to produce Argan oil. Being a male-dominant society, women have always been tasked with the work of producing Argan oil for domestic use. This led to low scale production which was not enough to sustain the growing international market demand.
The increased demand resulted in the formation of co-operatives that are run by women. With men being the sole providers in most Moroccan households, there has been a rising level of unemployment that has led families living in dreadful conditions.
Because of this and the high demand for Argan oil, women from the Berber tribe embraced the idea to set up cooperatives. Basically, much of the production of Argan oil is done by women's co-operatives. In these co-operatives, women sit in groups as they grind the Argan fruit by hand, a custom that has attracted many tourists.
The idea of setting up women-run cooperatives was first met with opposition by the men who did not want their women to work and even considered this move as a revolution. However, their perception changed when the women began to contribute to meeting the expenses at home.
Benefits of Argan Oil Cooperatives
Educating and Empowering Women
The Argan oil cooperative has also played a big role in educating and empowering women, both socially and economically. Most women in this region are now able to negotiate with foreigners and work with international companies. Due to increased productivity, these women can now compete both locally and internationally. There has also been a rise in literacy levels.Improves Quality of Life
The cooperatives are able to sustain the growing demand for Argan oil and cooperative members can now earn a living. This has resulted in better standards of living for women and their families. Also importantly, there has been a tremendous shift in the women’s mindset and they no longer need to depend on their men to get out of poverty.Alleviates Deforestation
Apart from providing jobs and empowering hundreds of women, the Argan oil cooperatives in Morocco play a big role in alleviating desertification. Before the establishment of the cooperatives, Morocco was losing Argan trees at a rate of 600 hectares every year. Deforestation was a huge problem as the trees were used to graze animals and produce charcoal. This, however, came to an end with the establishment of the cooperatives as the community was educated on the value of planting and protecting these trees.