The Independent Report: Morocco Taps Benefits of Barbary Fig Oil
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.