Many people refer to Moringa oleifera as the miracle tree. This notion is often mis-interpreted in financial terms. Although the tree does have significant economic potential, it is more revered in terms of its nutritional value and potential uses.
The uses of Moringa are numerous, and as a result a great deal of research and development has been invested into the crop. Moringa is regarded as a “poor-person’s plant” with the promise of benefiting rural communities. Because almost every part of the tree can be harvested and processed, it has the potential to be a highly profitable crop requiring minimal inputs. The tree can also be used to combat deforestation and is commonly used to beautify streets, sidewalks and informal settlements. Both the leaves and twigs can also be used as fodder for cattle.
The seeds can be used in a variety of ways. When crushed, moringa seed is an effective natural coagulant that can be used the treatment and rehabilitation of river waters exhibiting high levels of suspended solids (Fuglie, 2001). The seeds can be processed to yield 25-30% of a non-drying oil, known as Ben oil. It is used for lighting purposes, in artwork and for lubricating watches and other delicate machinery. The oil is clear, sweet-tasting, odourless and turns rancid slowly. This oil resembles olive oil and it is highly valued by perfumers as it absorbs and retains fugitive odours.
The leaves are an inexpensive source of protein, vitamins and minerals, especially in developing countries. It is reported that the leaves contain more beta-carotene than carrots, more vitamin C than oranges, more calcium than milk, more potassium than bananas, and more iron than spinach. Dried and milled leaves are easily stored and used by families who can then add the powder to supplement their daily meals. Food processing business have also started using the powder to boost the nutritional content of their products.
Consuming Moringa is also reported to have additional health benefits and may help combat the effects of high blood sugar and cholesterol, to name a few.
In Africa, a multi-purpose crop such as the Moringa tree, will benefit the food, biofuel and several other industries. Many reports from southern Africa strongly support the claim suggesting that cultivating Moringa will benefit the rural communities of Africa. Here, large scale plantations can provide substantial employment opportunities that will offer a sustainable income for marginalised communities. The Moringa products can be consumed or sold as a food source, cooking oil, fodder, biofuel, as well as contribute to the improved quality of water supply in rural areas.
The development of Moringa plantations with the aim to improve socio-economic conditions of rural communities is supported by various NGOs in southern Africa. Moringa naturally occurs in the tropics and sub-tropics and can tolerate higher temperature extremes, can survive light frost and tolerates a wide range of soil and rainfall conditions. Therefore, this tree is a suitable candidate for commercial establishment in different areas in Africa.
With this in mind, it is no wonder that the plant has become a hot topic among the scientific and commercial horticultural sectors as well as with health-conscious consumers. It is expected that the demand for moringa products will increase. Therefore, we have developed a series of videos on the propagation and cultivation of Moringa oleifera. In these videos, we are going to show you the steps you can follow to grow your own Moringa plants, whether it be to satisfy your restless green fingers or to start your own commercial ventures. Stick with us for everything you need to know about the wonder-plant Moringa oleifera.
We have created an economic model for Moringa farming for you to download free of charge.