Argan Oil is helping to improve the lives of many Berber women in Southern Morocco. We have chosen to work with an Organisation of Cooperatives that actively follow fair trading principles and work to improve the everyday lives of these women and the communities from which our Argan Oil is produced.
This Organisation started in October 2003 and comprises 6 women run Cooperatives. The project has two main objectives, to improve the social and economic status of the rural women and to preserve the Argan forest by finding sustainable economic uses for its products. This Umbrella Organisation has helped to standardise the operation and accounting systems of the individual Cooperatives and to expand their bargaining power. It has also created local jobs and in turn is enabling families to remain within their communities.
The Cooperatives guarantee the Berber women fair incomes superior to those which they would earn from the sale of nuts at the local markets. These Cooperatives offer jobs to approximately 400 women, many of whom are poor, widowed or divorced. The women are able to work full and part time depending on their circumstances and are paid accordingly, with the profits from the Argan Oil sale going back into the community through initiatives of training and elimination of illiteracy. Around 2500 women follow a program that teaches reading, writing, arithmetic, hygiene, health and religion. Training is also offered in environmental education, management of small projects within the Cooperatives and general management, traceability and food safety of the Cooperatives. As the women have realised the impact of education for themselves it has made it more likely that they will send their children to school.
The Organisation also works with these Cooperatives to teach the women about the conservation and reforestation of the Argan trees. Every year each worker plants 10 new Argan trees and as they have begun to realise the economic growth related to the Argan trees, villagers are becoming more reluctant to let their goats graze on these protected plants.
The rapid growth of the Argan Oil industry is helping to protect the Argan forests, improve the socioeconomic status of the Berber women and promote the value of Argan Oil on a national and international scale.