Just under a year ago, I completed this video as part of my Masters Degree in Photojournalism and Multimedia documentary. Over the course of the project, I spent four weeks in Morocco, piecing together a multimedia story on the production of argan oil in the country. Throughout the next week, I will be posting the backstory of this project, along with thoughts and lessons learned on funding and producing a multimedia piece as an individual. Please make sure to use the subscribe box on the right to keep posted. Also check out the video if you haven’t already.
*UDATE: My photos from this project were recently featured in an article on Argan Oil the Financial Times.
This story explores how the spread of global industry is supporting the revolutionary employment of Amazigh women throughout Morocco. One of these sources of work comes from an age-old tradition: the gathering and processing of fruit from Morocco’s argan tree, an extremely rare plant that grows almost exclusively in Southwest Morocco. The fruit contains kernels that are hand-extracted and can be pressed into nutrient-rich oil. Even with use of the mechanized press, it takes 30 KG of fruit and 15 hours of labour to produce just one litre of argan oil.
A growing array of scientific studies are now proving that argan oil is able to rejuvenate skin, hair and nail cells as well as reduce cholesterol and delay the onset of certain cancer types. Inevitably, it has become a highly marketable oil and demand has soared for use in cosmetic products and the culinary industry worldwide. Although the Imazighen of Morocco have used it medicinally for centuries, it was never recognized as a valuable commodity until now.
As a result of marketability and 100% sustainable harvest, argan oil is proving to be a boost to Morocco’s economy and environment. It has demonstrated such great success, that the government has become financially involved in supporting the reforestation of a tree that was heavily on the decline not twenty years ago. Nevertheless, what is now a highly valuable commodity, also commonly referred to as “liquid gold”, has attracted a great deal of attention from individuals hoping to capitalize off of a new demand.
What social impact does this trade have on the country, and what is the future of a growing industry for argan oil?