As BASF's Argan Programme reaches its 10th anniversary, statistics show that the initiative now benefits 1,000 women in rural Southern Morocco.
The initiative was originally designed to study the argan tree and evaluate the commercial possibilities of its oil and by-products, while diversifying the revenue of the cooperatives and fostering preservation of the argan forest by the local population. For this purpose, BASF partnered with Targanine – a network of six oil processing cooperatives from the region of Agadir.
The oil and its by-products are supplied to the German chemical giant under fair-trade conditions: These include a non-negotiated premium price, payment in advance and a fair trade premium for the oil. Around 50% of the price paid for oil cakes and pulp is allocated to social funds within the cooperatives; so far, this money has been spent on schemes such as literacy programmes and health related initiatives, says BASF.
Between 2005 and 2015, the number of cooperative members involved in argan oil production has increased sixfold and group turnover has risen by 875 percent. Today, 1,000 women from rural areas are working in the cooperatives which now market 16 different products in total, including by-products, botanical and essential oils, and bee products.
Since 2005, three ingredients from the programme have been commercialised, says BASF: an organic and fair-trade certified oil (Lipofructyl Argan), a skin-tightening protein extract from oil cakes (Argatensy), an anti-aging extract from the leaves of the argan tree that protects the skin from environmental factors (Arganyl) and most recently, Argassential.