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The Independent Report: Morocco Taps Benefits of Barbary Fig Oil
August 2011
The United Nations is encouraging the Moroccan people to develop and utilise the prickly pear cactus (barbary fig) plant further than its cosmetic qualities, apparently pledging $1.7 million to the program and providing technical help. It is believed that the plant can be grown and developed to provide several revenue streams in a country where conventional farming is difficult given the hot dry conditions. The cactus thrives in an extremely arid environment and without the need for fertilizers making it completely organic. 

If this business idea proves to be a success, other countries where farming is difficult due to the same arid conditions could also benefit from cultivating the plant. A large scale plan has already begun in the southern regions of Gulemim and Sidi Ifni of Morocco to boost production. Authorities at the United Nations  say the prickly pear fruit can also be eaten during a famine.

There are some Moroccan businesses already developing the cactus fruit, utilising it for its anti-ageing potential and anti-oxidant properties. A machine is used in the process to press the oil from the tiny seeds found in the prickly pear fruit.

According to Karim Anegay, chief of the plan at the economic promotion office for southern Morocco, 8 tons of the fruit is required to harvest just 1 litre of oil used for cosmetic purposes.

Because of the long winded production process and the fact that just a very small amount of oil can be extracted from each fruit, the barbary fig seed oil sells for around 1,000 euros , (equivalent to approx $1,440) a litre making it the most expensive oil on the market.


 
BBC Report: Opuntia Cactus Boosts Business In Morocco
August 2009
According to a BBC report in, the Opuntia cactus plant has become a lucrative new commodity in Morocco. The Opuntia cactus, formerly consumed as a fruit or utilised for animal feed, is generating a small economic phenomenon in the country due to new products in the health and cosmetic industry, being extracted from the plant, namely oil extracted from the small seeds contained within its fruit.

This spiky area of the semi-arid south of Morocco about the town of Sidi Ifni is recognised as Morocco's cactus capital. The area is fortunate to have the right climate for the 45,000 hectares (111,000 acres) of suitable terrain that is being used to manufacture vast quantities of the juicy Opuntia barbary fig.

Each resident family has its own area or farm and, with support from the Ministry of Agriculture, the plan to convert the small scale manufacture into a substantial industry is now in in progress.  Around 12 million dirhams (£860,000, $1.5m) have been promised to construct a high tech factory that will aid local farmers grow and manufacture the ripe prickly pear fruits. The effort is anticipated to aid workers in keeping up with the needs of the French cosmetics trade that is utilising the plant in a growing number of health and beauty products. The most lucrative part of the cactus is the oil contained in the fruit, the prickly pear which is used in over forty cosmetic products, and sells with a very expensive price tag as a pure skin oil. With a better financial contribution from the government, it is anticipated that inside of 2 years, over 75% of the produce will be manufactired by the local workers of Ait Baamram.

The need for cactus products has increased due to the fact that it is believed to aid high blood pressure and cancer and the fleshy part of the fruit has been found to lower cholesterol.

At the time of reporting only twenty percent of the fruits grown for commercial purpose was manufactured in the area, the marginal part is still bought in huge quantities by foreigners who skim off the biggest profit.



 
 








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