UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics

Argan Oil Production in Morocco

Oct. 20, 2011

Travis Lybbert, associate professor, led a research team to examine the economic and social benefits of argan oil production in Morocco. The booming demand for Morocco's argan oil, now the most expensive edible oil in the world, is providing economic and social benefits for rural communities but appears to be threatening the health and future of the native argan forests. Argan oil, which currently sells for roughly $300 per liter, is derived from the seeds of the argan tree, a deciduous tree that is native to southwestern Morocco. The oil has been an important resource for Morocco's Berber people for centuries, but came to the attention of the outside world in the 1990's and is now highly sought after for culinary, cosmetic and medicinal uses.

"The results of our study indicate that while the argan oil boom seems to have improved educational opportunities, especially for girls, it has not improved the forests and may actually have led to their degradation," said Lybbert. The researchers report their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Aug. 22).

 

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