The argan tree belongs to the monospecific genus Argania and is the only representative of the tropical family Sapotaceae in Morocco. It is a multi-purpose tree, with leaves and fruit used for livestock feed, and the wood for carpentry and fuel. The primary product of this tree, however, is the highly prized oil derived from its almonds, which has culinary, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic uses. Argan oil is one of the most expensive edible oils in the world, reaching a retail price of 300$/L in the US and European markets where it’s the subject of several cosmetic patents. For the local population in the arid zones where argan grows, the tree plays an important socio-economic role. Indeed, it is estimated that nearly 19% of the local population’s income depends on this tree, with major processing activities, including oil extraction, being traditionally accomplished by women. Thus the argan tree represents an invaluable resource which merits intensive study and preservation.
Collaborator: Ouafae Benlhabib, Ph.D., Institut Agronomique et Veterinaire Hassan II, Rabat, Morocco
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