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Unique to the arid south-west of Morocco, the thorny argan is a precious resource. Every part of the tree is useable: the wood is used for fuel, the leaves and fruit provide forage for goats, and the oil extracted from the almonds is used in cooking and traditional medicine. More important perhaps, it is the region’s last bulwark against the advance of the desert.

Zoubida Charrouf, a researcher in the Science Faculty of Mohamed V. University, in Rabat, Morocco, describes the hurdles that she faces as she champions the need both to protect the tree and to learn more about its products.

“People reproach me three things. They reproach me for having helped women get out of the house. They reproach me for having improved the extraction of argan oil. And they reproach me for being interested in a tree that belongs to ordinary people, not to academics.”

Link to IDRC Reports article