Marjana is a Women’s Cooperative just 14km outside of Essaouira on the route towards Marakech. At Marjana Berber women manually produce Argan Oil. First the nuts need to be freed from peal and shells and then they are ground in a stone mill. Marjana gives opportunities to rural women, to earn their own salaries and to win independence from their husbands.
The Argan oil Gundara offers is organic (certified by ECOCERT). The Argan oil is produced from the kernels of the argan tree (Argania spinosa) which is endemic to Morocco. Argan oil is valued for its nutritive, cosmetic and numerous medicinal properties.
The fruits of the argan tree are almond-like and may be round, oval or conical in shape. The fruits are covered by a thick peel which covers the fleshy pulp. The pulp surrounds a hard-shelled nut. Within the nut there are one to three argan oil-rich kernels. Argan oil is extracted from the kernels. Extraction of the kernels is key to the argan oil production process. In order to extract the kernels, the argan fruits are first dried in the open air and then the fleshy pulp of the fruit is removed. The flesh is usually used as feed for animals and the shells are used for firing the stove. At the Marjana Cooperative women crack the argan nuts by hand with stones to obtain the argan kernels. This makes the process time-consuming and labour-intensive. Kernels used to make argan oil for food use are gently roasted. After the argan kernels have cooled down, they are ground and pressed. The brown-colored mash expels pure, unfiltered argan oil. After this, unfiltered argan oil is decanted into vessels. The press cake remaining after the argan oil has been expelled is protein-rich and is frequently used as feed for cattle. Cosmetic argan oil is produced almost identically, although the argan kernels are not roasted. After pressing, the argan oil is decanted and left to rest for approximately two weeks. This allows solids suspended in the argan oil to settle to the bottom, creating a natural sediment. Pure argan oil may contain some sediment. This is a natural part of the production process and does not affect the quality of the argan oil.