Global demand for argan oil may be a two-edged sword—providing economic and social benefits for Morocco’s rural communities at the same time it threatens the health and future of native forests.
Derived from the seeds of the deciduous argan tree fruit, argan oil has been an important resource for Morocco’s Berber people for centuries. The oil is now highly sought for culinary, cosmetic, and medicinal purposes globally, selling for roughly $300 per liter. (One liter equals slightly more than one-fourth gallon.)
“Our research indicates that while the argan oil boom seems to have benefited locals and improved educational opportunities, especially for girls, it has not improved the forests and may actually have led to their degradation,” says Travis Lybbert, associate professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of California, Davis.
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Photo credit: Abedellah Aboudrare