It is not without reason that argan oil is called the gold of Morocco. The precious oil is one of the most important ingredients of our ORGANIC series. It is extracted from the seeds of the argan tree by the Afoulki women’s cooperative in southwestern Morocco in line with the highest quality and organic standards. Argan oil has a wide range of positive effects on both health and beauty. Thanks to its richness in essential fatty acids and a variety of other valuable active ingredients, it’s an ideal product for the intensive care of lips, skin and nails. Due to its high concentration of vitamin F, it optimises lipid balance and increases skin hydration and smoothness. It also nourishes, protects and regenerates irritated skin.
In addition to its health and cosmetic benefits, this Moroccan liquid gold is vitally important for its region of origin in socio-economic terms. The plant itself is also called the “tree of life” and is now only found in certain areas of southwestern Morocco. The centuries-old knowledge and practices of using these trees have been recognised as intangible cultural heritage since 2014.
In September 2003, Fatima Ait Moussa, the future founder of the women’s cooperative, observed a scene that moved her and gave her an idea that was to have a far-reaching impact. A small woman enters the grocery store in her village with a little bottle of argan oil. She offers the shopkeeper the bottle in exchange for some money or a bag of flour, which she could use to bake bread for her children. However, since the merchant already has a sufficient stock of argan oil, he declines her offer. Touched by the woman who is trying to feed her family while maintaining her dignity, Fatima begins to think about ways to market the argan oil that has been specially extracted by the women of the village. Her reflections gave rise to “Afoulki”, which now comprises a total of five cooperatives consisting of 200 women specialised in the extraction of argan oil.
In its early days, the project had neither a production site nor equipment. But the charismatic founder didn’t let that stop her. Her watchword is “all will be well, inshallah”. That same year, the 30 founding members began producing artisanal argan oil for food at the family’s home. Soon after, they built their own premises, which are among the most beautiful commercial buildings in the region today. A year later, they were able to purchase machinery for extracting argan oil, which allowed the cooperative to mechanise the production of two varieties of the oil: cosmetic and culinary argan oil, which were among the first exports to Europe. Today, the cooperative has 200 members, bringing together a number of cooperatives from all the villages of the municipality of Idmine. In addition to the members, there are more than 600 seasonal workers who work during the harvest season – women who are able to secure their financial and economic independence thanks to the appreciation of their work and their valuable product. Today, the cooperative has expanded its range to include other organic products that are exported all around the world. However, the heart of the production is still the liquid Moroccan gold.
The cooperative works from the raw material to the shipment of the final product. In October 2017, the cooperative began to look into becoming NATRUE BIOLOGIQUE certified. The cooperative’s products have now been certified, safeguarding the quality of the cooperative’s natural and organic products for its customers around the world. As an active member of the Fédération Interprofessionnelle Marocaine de la Filière Bio (FIMABIO), Afoulki is committed to developing strategies for the organic sector in such areas as training and mentoring, promoting the marketing of organic products, and protecting and preserving the environment.