Argan oil the Amazigh Berber women
Argan oil by Amazigh Berber women
Argan oil by the Amazigh berber women is known as the finest Argan oil in the world. But who are these women? and where do they come from?
The Berbers are a wide group of indigenous tribes and peoples of North Africa, united by a common tongue and identification with their shared heritage. Most now live in Morocco and Algeria, with communities in Tunisia, Libya, Mauritania, Mali and Niger. However the word berber is a controversial one as the translated meaning is ‘from the Forrest’ or ‘wild’
The true name for these people is Amazigh, they are truly an incredible people, being able to withstand the harsh climate of the Sarhara Dessert for centuries, they were able to adapt to their environment where others that tried to conquer the land failed, however approximately 1300 years ago they were finally colonized by the Arabs and Islam was introduced to Morocco. The Amazigh chose to accept the religion, but still hold on to their Amazigh culture.
Around 65% of the population of Morocco is of an Amazigh decent, however Arabic and French is more commonly taught in schools, not the Amazigh native language.
The Amazigh people that still live in the High Atlas Mountains have a traditional way of life, the men of the family take care of livestock and work the land, while the Amazigh women are renowned for their craftsmanship. Many are illiterate, and are living on or below the Moroccan poverty line.
Luxurious handmade Amazigh wool rugs that have lined the walls of souks for centuries, still to this day are made by the women that live in villages in the high Atlas Mountain.
The Amazigh women are also well known for their cultivation for the Argan Kernal. The Argan forest is protected by UNESCO and it sits on a land where anyone is free to collect the kernel as long as they are not damaging the tree. The Argan oil by the Amazigh Berber women is the finest pure Argan oil in the world
A government incentive also started in Morocco to help sustain the Argan forest . The government started to fund co-operatives for the Amazigh women, with equipment and machinery to provide a tax free incentive to the owners of the cooperative.
Argan oil by Amazigh Berber women
The traditional method of pressing the Argan kernel takes 5 hours of hard labour for a single litre of Argan oil.
It has been reported that a full time employed women earns 600 dirhams a month (which converts to approximately £54), while that one litre of Argan oil that she has pressed for 5 hours retails at over £100.
Western tourists are sold the idea that the cooperatives are a benefit to these women, because it gives them a purpose, promotes self esteem, and also helps to sustain the Argan forest. They are now tourist hotspots and can receive up to 100 tourists a day.
My question is, if the cooperative have been given equipment and machinery, and they aren’t required to pay tax, who is profiting from these organisations? And why are they not internationally registered as fair trade? Surly these women deserve to have a higher pay and even better working conditions.
So what is the future of the Amazigh tribe of Morocco?
As the modern world is infringing on Moroccan society, is there a place for the Amazigh culture to remain intact?
I love Morocco, and i love the Amazigh people, I truly hope that the culture does not become exploited Where there is a desperate need for modernisation, Moroccans must find a way of respecting and preserving the culture also.
Sources from Wikapedia, ‘An Argan oil cooperative is changing peoples lives’ article written by Zoubida Charrouf
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