Argan oil: Morocco's 'desert gold' and the fight for its survival

Story highlights

  • Argan trees play a huge role in Morocco's environmental and economic growth
  • Moroccan women crush the tough Argan tree nuts and extract its inner kernel -- which is used to create the precious golden oil sold across the world

(CNN)Once upon a time, in the heart of Morocco's arid land, tree-climbing goats played a vital role in the country's lucrative Argan oil industry.

The hungry animals would climb onto the thorny trees, native to Morocco, and eat their fruit and leaves.
But the kernels, which are encased within the fruit's incredibly strong nut, couldn't be digested by the goats. So enterprising locals collected them from the animal's droppings and turned them into precious golden oil.