Who are the Berbers
The Berbers are the ethnic people of the North Africa region, especially found on the west of the Nile valley. Their language is also classified under the Berber language group. Today most Berber speaking people live in Morocco and Algeria and smaller scattered population can be found in places like Tunisia, Mali, and even large migrant communities across northern Europe.
Majority of Argan oil comes from these Argan nut processing facilities in Morocco which is typically owned & operated by the Berber women co-operatives.
Traditionally, it was not very common for Berber women to find a job outside of home. But this is twenty first century and times are not the same. According to Moroccan government sources, all these Argan nut processing co-ops are run by women.
The Argan oil boom has worked wonders in liberating Berber women and making them economically independent leading to their social and economic liberation. These jobs now enable women to take better care of their families and children.
The government has also recognized the boon this has brought to the country and they are planting 60,000 trees every year.
The work is quite taxing but the Berber women have shown they are up for this challenge. Processing the oil requires cracking the kernel. First the nut is cracked open by hand using a stone. Then the kernel is placed between two stones grinding them into a brown peanut butter like paste.
Finally this paste is kneaded to extract the oil. The residue is a cake like solid substance which is sent to the mechanical press where even more oil can be extracted out of it. It takes about 20 hrs to produce one liter of oil by hand.
With the surge in the popularity of Argan oil and a huge international appetite, many of these manual steps have been mechanized. However, so far, there is no machine that can do a better job at cracking open the argan nuts than these Berber women.