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2005-03-25

Argan: The Moroccan Tree of Life

(Argane d'Essaouira.com; Al-Bab.com)

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Argania spinosa grows in the area due to a unique mixture of soil, strong sun and Atlantic climate. Though declining in number, argans can live up to 250 years through heat and drought in meager, stony soil. Attempts to introduce the species to other parts of the world have failed.

The argan's small habitat makes it virtually unknown outside Morocco and unknown to many Moroccans who live in different regions. The name "argan" likely came from the village of Argana, where the tree may have first been identified.

But there is more to the argan tree than meets the eye.

Growing to a height of 8-10m, the twisted and gnarled trunk of the tree enables goats to climb and eat its leaves and fruit. After the goats consume the green, fleshy, olive-looking fruit, they excrete the nut.

Argan nuts contain oil slightly darker than olive oil with a reddish tinge and nutty taste. Called Moroccan "liquid gold," the oil is extracted in a largely traditional production process that starts with farmers collecting the nuts left by goats.

Opening the nuts to remove kernels requires 20 hours of work to produce one litre of oil. The largely cottage industry is mostly performed by women, though it is possible someday greater popularity of the oil will lead to significant employment opportunities. One indication of the oil's popularity is a Swiss-Moroccan company, Argane d'Essaouria, now sells argan oil over the internet.

At the local level, the difficult oil extraction process from argan nuts yields an unexpected outcome: unscrupulous vendors and distributors. High-priced argan oil tempts many vendors and distributors to dilute it with cheaper oils. On the many roadside stands between Essaouira and Agadir, the oil's authenticity is not guaranteed and customers must be careful.

High costs lead to consumers generally only using argan oil in moderation to flavour dishes such as couscous, salads, vegetables, meat, and fish. People who make their own oil are more likely to utilize it for general cooking.

Argan oil is considered healthy because it contains 80 per cent unsaturated fatty acids like oleic and linoleic. Attributed health effects include reducing cholesterol levels and bolstering the body's natural defenses.

The oil is packed with natural vitamin E and is used as a skin care product. Argan oil's anti-aging effect on skin and ability to soften it makes it a popular ingredient in Moroccan cosmetics. There is also evidence the oil can protect against skin infections.

More than oil is made from the argan kernel. A brown-coloured paste called amlou is made from the kernel, sweetened and served as a breakfast bread spread by Berbers.

Besides the economic benefits that could be spurred by increased investment in argan products, efforts to protect and possibly increase the number of trees will help the environment. The trees' deep roots help bind the soil and prevent erosion.

With the capability of yielding tasty oil, skin care products, a sweet paste, and saving the environment, the Moroccan "The Tree of Life" earned a well-deserved name.

What do you think of this article?

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  1. Anonymous thumb

    cadarus 2014-5-28

    Asalamu Alykum - I need to know how long does it grow argan tree. thnkx

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    Mustapha Najar 2014-1-2

    I like it and I did try it I like to know what to do to by it on line I am a berber [imazighen]and I will be happy to by it from my brothers.

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    faiza 2013-12-6

    Hello– I would like a scientific study of argan trees. –Thank you

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    Fatima Santiago. 2013-5-19

    I'm quite happy to know that this tree refuses to grow elsewhere. I am not, however, Moroccan.

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    kadi 2012-12-9

    I would like a full research about the Argan tree in French. Thank you!

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    wassim 2011-8-23

    I have a lot of information about this tree. I hail from the region of Agadir in the south of Morocco where Argan trees grow. **Phone number removed by editor**. Thank you!

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    شامل عزام 2011-8-22

    Salam alikum. I need information about producers of Argan oil to contact them and study the possibility to import the oil. Thank you.

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    Ahmed G. Farah 2011-8-4

    Dear Folks Down here in Somaliland we have an Argan tree grown in our coastal areas just typical climate in Morocco. The tree is indeginous and known forever. However, the advantage of this tree is known for health reasons. The only thing that we need is the economy of it as a natural resource. Can anyone help me to find a proper investor who is willing to commercialize its products? Thanks Ahmed

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    Hamid 2011-7-8

    Hello everyone- I would like to plant an argan tree in southern Algeria, in Laghouat to be precise. Will it grow? Where can you buy argan shrubs?

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    Verena 2011-6-6

    I would love a tree like that in my garden in New Zealand xx

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    أحمد-الدار البيضاء 2011-6-1

    Is it possible to know how to extract Argan oil?

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    hossin 2011-5-29

    Argan tree the miracle three. This tree is present in the region of Souss Massa Draa. Residents in this region are Amazigh of the South, they speak Tachlhit. The cities of Imouzzer Ida Outanane, Agadir, Essaouira, Marrakesh, Taroudant, Tiznit, Gulmim, Sidi Ifni, Imintanoute and Chichaoua are the land of the lofty Argan tree.

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    سو سو 2011-5-16

    Peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon you. God bless you for the information about this tree and its produce. I heard a lot about it but I didn’t believe it until I made a search on google and I found this interesting information. May God reward you with good! Can I refer to it so that it becomes my link?

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    Jacques TURCHET 2011-1-10

    Hello Prost- Your project is perfectly doable to the extent that the natives will accept it. Given your message, I believe that you are not Moroccan. Get some information for yourself first and talk with the people who live in the area where you want to make this plantation. It is a good idea and I do not think you will have any problems. As for plantations, you are also right because the region is good for this tree, which deserves to survive because it is seriously endangered. –J. Turchet

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    عيسى 2010-12-25

    Peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon you. I want please information about Argan tree, the benefits of the tree and the way to use Argan oil in treating some diseases. Please send me a flask of the oil of this tree which doesn’t grow on our lands.

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    prost 2010-11-23

    I am planning to move definitively to Essaouira in 2010. I do not want sit around idly when I am retired. If it is possible, I plan to build a green house, grow argans and then plant them in the ground around Essaouira. What do you think about this project? Is it doable? I am asking for the opinions of Moroccans and Europeans interested in the volunteer project. Thank you for your responses.

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    mohamad 2010-11-3

    Very distinguished!

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    baaka yassin 2010-10-30

    Thank you for this great article. I watched a documentary on Aljazeera about this oil. I would like more information about this. I am in Saudi Arabia.

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    kintziger christian 2010-10-14

    “The Argan is not just in Morocco!” – Hello everyone- I live in Belgium. During a trip to Morocco more than ten years ago, we brought back olives that we supposed to have argan seeds in them. (Was this for the flavour? We buried the seeds and their thorny shoots then appears. After how much time now, the shoot grew and now my tree is 10 metres tall and 8 metres in diameter!!! It blooms every year and produces little green fruits that do not fully mature! This has long been the only argan tree Belgium has known! Every year I cut it down by two metres and distribute the branches to whoever wants them. They grow very well if you stick them in the ground and they make all of my neighbours happy! The next time I resize it will be next week. A note to amateurs, I have: photos available! –See you soon

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    ihihi 2010-9-17

    What is the origin of argan?

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    إماراتيه 2010-9-12

    In fact it has become famous in Morocco. This is because it is a tourist and nice country. It is part of the nice popular heritage. Fortunately, it exists in other countries under different names. However, it become very famous in the brotherly Morocco. Quite surprisingly, I have always been using Argan oil for my skin and in my food. However, Argan oil for the skin is different from the oil used in food. They are made for the same oil. One for the skin, with a light colour. The other for food with a dark colour. One of my maids, used to smell it and talked about it. I knew it, she meant it because this plant goes through the same phases and with the same flavor. It has a very nice smell. The same smell of roasted almonds. It also exists in Ethiopia. I don’t know if it is present in another country. I advise you to use it. It is very efficient. I personally use i tat night for my hair, nails, skin and body. As to those who like tanned skin, they can use it in the daytime and will get a great tan. It is very good for the hair and nails with massage. It feeds and prevents nail breaking. It is really the oil of life from my personal experience as I am hardly satisfied. But this oil changed this.

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    Peter Hanschke 2010-9-2

    I would like to grow Argan tree,s in Australia.Does the tree like frost, Wet feet, What is the growth time eg how long before fruit is produced. Could someone reply and provide relevant information Thank you

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    أبو سعود 2010-7-30

    Thank you for this great topic. I watched a documentary on Al Jazeera channel about this oil. I wanted more information about it. I am in Saudi Arabia. How can I get this oil? Sincerely yours.

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    mona louisa 2010-7-27

    Hello- I would like to plant argan trees on the land I have in Algeria at the edge of the desert about 350km from Algiers, towards the centre of the country. (It's between the two regions of Djelfa and Laghouat.) In short, will this experiment turn out and, if so, will I make anything off of it? Thank you for you help. May God be with you. –Mona Louisa

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    fikri houcine 2010-7-25

    ARGAN tree is the most popular in MOROCCO exact in the sud of the country like SOUSS and AIT BAAMRAN .this tree it was known now buy the world.so it had many adventages for the health.so thank you very much to all persons who take this tree to be knwon by the world and given many information about it. regards

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    djamel 2010-7-8

    Know, my brothers and sisters, that in southern Algeria the Berbers also cultivate millions of hectares of argan. They have been their since…

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      pablo 2014-4-19

      Djamel, finish your sentences.

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    karam 2010-5-15

    Hi- I have a degree in this field.

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    assia 2010-4-4

    What are the names of Morocco’s trees?

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    laaroussi 2010-3-21

    Personally, I love my country with all of my heart! 100% Morocco!

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    essamed 2010-3-14

    I want to learn from you, my brothers, but through this nice article. Why is the argan oil rare? Does it have special conditions for its growth?

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    MICHAEL MURAD 2010-1-21

    CAN SOMEONE TELL ME WHERE I CAN GET THE ARGAN TREE SEEDS TO PLANT, I LIVE IN RABAT, MOROCCO THANK YOU.

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      allen lagnado 2014-3-25

      i am just nback from a wonderful trip in south of morocco maracesh while driving i spotted this tree with yellow little pear shaped fruit we stopped i got out heard whistling but did not know where it was coming from i picked two fruits from the tree heard more whistling looked up in the mountai there was a moroccan whistliing with his goats he was warning me probably not to take the goat food anyway i am planting these seeds in peat ive allready got a 1 metre tall olive tree in the front planted 10 yrs ago from a little 1 foot bush boaught from liddl if argan can groe in the desert it will love golders green london mazeltov by the way morocco is full of ancient jewish synagogues and rabbis tombs all prrrotected by the very fair king

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  32. Anonymous thumb

    سعيد بحسنا 2010-1-20

    Morocco's provision of the Argan tree is one of its main world-class features. We will provide more details as soon as possible, etc.

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    غدير 2009-12-4

    A very good topic. I want additional information if possible about the nature of the soil there, the volume of rain drops in the region and frost.

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    amina 2009-11-22

    Thank you. This is very beautiful. We Moroccans are proud of ourselves.

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    hamza 2009-11-16

    Thank you so much!

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    mohamed 2009-11-15

    Salam alikum my brothers. It is a pleasure that the Maghreb and Arab people take interest in this noble tree. It is a source of pride for us and shows to the West that God Almighty loves His servants and endowed them with everything valuable and beneficial for the health of humans. Thank you.

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    مجهول 2009-11-6

    Interesting.

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    Anita 2009-11-6

    I am researching an article on culinary argan oil, and looking for historical details, beyond its widespread availability as documented by Leo Africanus in the 16th century. Can you tell me how cooks would have used the oil in earlier times? Thank you!

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    Amine 2009-11-4

    Hello everyone- This is my first time going on this website. I thank the people running it. Some members have posed a few questions, and given my fondness for the argan tree, I will be happy to answer as best I can. Please, anyone who wants to contact me, do so through this website. I ask that the editorial staff to eliminate anything from my comment that is not authorised. So, here are my responses to: - Don – In the region of Agadir or, more precisely, in Ait Melloul or Essaouira you will find co-operatives able to deliver you Argan oil wherever you may be (Morocco or elsewhere); - عمر المراقي – The advantages of this oil, which make up a long list, are multiple. You just need to specify whether you are looking for the advantages relating to consumption or its cosmetic use; - سماء – Tell me what you want to say by “basic oil” and I will try to respond; - Sara – Contact me and I will be able to provide you with this information; - Pierre and Somia – Try to contact the Institute in Agadir that - to the best of my knowledge - did some professional research in this field. - Aziz – Go to Google, for example, write “arganier” and do an image search. You will get them. I think that that is enough for today. Thank you, everyone.

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    ibrahim 2009-11-1

    Salam alikum. Concerning Argan oil, it only grows in wild areas. It doesn’t need a lot of water. It cannot be planted anywhere else. It is present only in mountainous areas in the south of Morocco. It has a strong flavour. You can't eat much of it. Some people mix it up with olive oil.

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    سومة 2009-10-15

    How can I confirm that Argan oil is authentic, especially when it is sold at a low price?

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    rachid 2009-8-30

    I succeeded in finally getting an argan seed to germinate. I was able to get my first little argan tree at home with a difference humidity and climate than in the South. I live in Rabat. Thank God I could achieve my goal. The second step will be to plant them in the soil. God willing, I hope this will success. If you want to see the photographs, contact me.

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    dahmani 2009-6-28

    May I have some information on where I can buy an argan tree? Can you also tell me the type of sunlight this tree needs? I await your information. -Thank you, your friend from northern Morocco.

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    asma 2009-6-8

    I would like to buy pure Argan oil.

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    zineb 2009-5-25

    I have a research project due on Morocco's forest areas. Please help me. Please.

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    رامي علي 2009-4-8

    Thank you for this interesting and important information for the reader. I hope that you send more information.

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    عزيزة مزا 2009-3-31

    A very good topic but it is not complete. I have to prepare a topic about this tree but I haven't found enough information.

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    حكيم 2009-3-26

    Salam alikum. Thank you for the valuable information. I want more specific and scientific information about agriculture, growth conditions, nature of the soil, thank you.

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    fatima 2009-3-17

    Salam alikum. I am Fatima from Morocco, region of Souss famous for Argan. I am very interested in this tree. I am now planning to set up a project of planting Argan trees. In my family, we extract Argan oil. I need someone to help me because this tree is a precious resource as we call it green gold. But in recent years, it has declined. This is very serious for nature and man. Thank you.

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    aziz 2009-2-27

    Salam everyone! I am looking for photographs of the argan tree, please.

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    TURCHET Jacques 2008-12-16

    It is good to publish articles on argan trees, which, unfortunately, are becoming more and more rare. I think that we need to encourage the planting of this precious tree for our human and animal health. Upon returning from Morocco, where I conduct business, I am going to take an interest in this problem, because there area lot of possibilities with regards to making products from this tree. This would permit the local populations to remain working with local production and to live off of their production. It is all a problem of organisation and subsidisation. –Jacques Turchet, agricultural engineer

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    nina 2008-12-12

    There is a close relationship between sustainable development and the natural environment. The officials are increasingly taking into consideration climatic threats, economic development and demographic growth. But, in an environment such as southwestern Morocco, the aridness is a major constraint to development. And, even a very proactive irrigation project cannot resolve all of the problems. Sustainable environment for such an environment relies on the reasonable management of natural resources, soil, vegetation and water. The argan trees and argan plantations are part of the natural resources that we must protect and better value. In effect, the argan tree is a “multi-use” tree, each tree part or product – wood, leaves, fruits, oil – is usable and is a source of revenue and food for the user.

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    nina 2008-12-12

    Hi- Are argan trees profitable?

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    jeanne 2008-12-7

    This subject is interesting. I read on Wikipedia that argan cultivation is threatened by the intensive cultivation of lettuces in Morocco. Argan oil is sold for a high price in Europe. An NGO, association or voluntary entrepreneur that wants to study the industry needs to be found. I also read that there is almost none left in Algeria. What a shame for this beautiful country – as I imagine it – to be given argan oil, a success in natural beauty shops, and to not have anyone who can help plant argan trees. And, this would create jobs for people. With come marketing, this could be the “Oil of the Berbers”.

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    عبدو 2008-10-16

    Salam alikum my brothers and sisters and this good place which I came across at random. Yes dear ones, it is Argan which offers many benefits.

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    maria 2008-7-1

    I would like to ask any experts out there if it is possible to transplant an Argan tree without damaging it. Should the new location have the exact same characteristics as the that of its origin?

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    سعد الدوسري 2008-4-9

    My dear brothers. Peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon you. Please direct me to any official study made about this oil and which shows the benefits of this oil without referring to popular tales circulated by old people.

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    yousef 2008-4-5

    Please, where can we buy this oil in Syria?

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    sosiabdallah 2008-3-23

    In my opinion, this is a valuable article in every respect. It has shown a very good, realistic and important picture which was absent from the minds of some people. For those who want to buy this oil, I am a man who sells this natural heritage. You can just call me. Sincerely yours.

    Telephone number removed by the editor.

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    nadia 2008-3-22

    Hello to all the ambitious people in Morocco, Please, I would like to know what the benefits of this “Tree of Life” are. I would like to know if it can grow in the region of Marrakesh and how long it takes for it to bear fruit. Thank you

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    المهندس أبو محمد نور 2008-3-14

    The the peace and mercy of God be upon you. How can I buy five of these trees? Who do I pay and how much is it?

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    سارة 2008-2-29

    In my opinion, Argan tree grows only in Morocco or as the sister Yasmine said in dear Algeria. This tree has many beneficial interests namely in the Moroccan aesthetic field. The way it is produced is by removing the core which is mixed up, smoked, put in water then it is sieved, this is how we get the authentic Moroccan Argan oil.

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    ياسمين 2008-2-28

    Yes this tree can grow in Algeria because we have made researches about the topic and searched in the areas where it grows. It grows in the North West of Algeria in the town of Sik, namely in ‘Akkaz’, in the Wilaya of Moaskar and in the town of ‘Stidia’, wilaya of Mostaghanem. It is very similar to Argan tree in Morocco. But unfortunately, people of the region don’t care about it, and it doesn’t receive necessary care for the lack of experience. Reply to Ammar Ezzahi.

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    basma 2008-2-25

    hello,it's a good subject.but i would like to khnow more information about this topis.thank u

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    somia 2008-2-10

    Hello, I think this subject is very important. I would like to know what new techniques for artificially growing new argan trees there are? Thank you

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    pierre 2008-1-15

    Hello, I am planning on buying an argan tree? I am going to try to plant it in my garden. I live in Aquitaine. Will it grow????

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    YOUSSRA 2007-12-24

    What a nice nice subject with some excellent ideas and expressions. I am speechless because it is about Moroccan culture.

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    sara 2007-12-21

    hello, thank you for the topic.actially i have a presentation in university about how argan oil is extracted,meaning the production process of argan oil with details.please help me to give the best.i'm waiting your answer thank you once again

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    مواطن الله اشوف من حالو 2007-12-5

    A topic which deserves praise, but the ideas aren't co-ordinated as the process of extracting the oil wasn't completed, you just mentioned extracting the kernel. What comes next?

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    hajar 2007-11-27

    I think this subject is both very beautiful and very important.

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    omar azahi 2007-10-28

    Can this tree grow in Algeria?

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    اسماء 2007-10-2

    How can I get the basic oil

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    Don 2007-4-22

    Does anyone know where I can buy Argane oil wholesale . Many Thanks

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    DAVID EMEKA AGU 2007-1-24

    how can i get this oil for nigeria use?.

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    عمر المراقي 2006-12-23

    Can you send me communications about its benefits!

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    عماد 2006-10-8

    The subject is good, but incomplete.

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