The road from Marrakech to the coastal town of Essaouria in the southwest of Morocco is one of dusty, orange-brown countryside. If you keep your eyes open, it won’t be long before you encounter Argan trees along the road, dotted with...goats??
Argan trees are best-known for the oil that can be extracted from the hard seeds of the fruit they bear. Full of vitamin E and antioxidants used for skincare and haircare products, the oil is in high demand, and is worth about 5x more than olive oil.
Removing the fruit from the seed is the most laborious process in producing the oil, and so a mutually beneficial arrangement emerged. Goats climb into the trees and eat the fruit, and after they poop out the seeds, people harvest them to make Argan oil.
While this process makes producing the oil less labor intensive for humans, goats in the trees can do damage over time, so Argan fruit is now largely harvested by hand. But the word about Moroccan tree goats is out: visitors love to stop and take photos, for a few dirham of course (1 Moroccan dirham = 10 cents).
Photographs by Martin Solly