Argan oil is creating a booming economy for Morocco, but it is threatening the forest.
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 09/20/2012 -- Argan oil has recently boomed into the most expensive edible oil in the world. Argan is providing Morocco with an economic stimulus boost, but according to researchers with the University of California at Davis, the oil appears to be threatening the health of the Argan forests.
Researchers led by an economist at University of California Davis reported that argan oil is not producing benefits for the forests, and may actually be the cause of the degradation that is occurring. “Our research indicates that while the argan oil boom seems to have benefited the rural communities and provided educational experiences, it has not improved the forests at all,” says Travis Lybbert, an associate professor in the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
Argan oil is derived from the seed of the argan tree fruit. The oil has historically been important to the people of Morocco for a long time. The oil became popular in other parts of the world in the 1990s and has since been sought for a variety of purposes. The price per liter of argan oil is roughly $300 USD.
Until recently, people thought that the argan oil market was beneficial to everyone, be it rural communities in Morocco or the environment. Lybbert noted to UC Davis’ that families in the argan oil region that had access to argan oil were more educated and more likely to send their children to school.
This poses a problem, however. Wealthier families in the rural and argan oil regions of Morroco purchased more goats. Goats are the primary threat to the argan forests because the goats eat the leaves off of the trees and damage branches.
Lybbert and and other researchers found evidence that rapid growth of argan products may have sped up the degradation due to how the forests were being treated by the people and their goats.
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