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Rewarding the Workface behind Morocco’s Liquid Gold

Whether it is being drizzled on salads or turned into face creams, Morocco’s argan oil is the latest culinary and cosmetic must-have. But with sales soaring around the world, concerns remain about the pay and conditions of the mainly female workforce that produces the oil. Often called the country’s “liquid gold”, global sales of argan oil are soaring, helped by studies that suggest it has health benefits. Production, which is almost all from Morocco, is expected to reach 19,623 US tons or $1.79bn by 2022 up from 4,836 US tons in 2014. In Morocco argan is traditionally used as a foodstuff – a dip for bread or drizzled on couscous – and as a medicine. But the big growth in demand is being led by the worldwide cosmetics industry. In addition to face creams, it is now being added products like lip gloss, shampoo, moisturisers and soaps. As the industry becomes more lucrative, the issue of the women’s wages has become an increasingly hot topic. The situation has become such an issue in the county that Morocco’s minister of agriculture asked Prof Charrouf for help in forcing firms to join industry trade bodies, and commit to paying staff the minimum wage.