Moringa (Zogelle) is a tree gaining a lot of attention as experts believe that it has health and economic benefits for humans. This is because extract from moringa has been said to improve heart health, lower cholesterol and reduce the formation of plaque in arteries, JOHN OBA reports.
For most Nigerians, the government inclusive, cashew, cocoa, palm oil, maize, rice, cassava and soyabean, are some of the major cash crops with huge potentials to boost farmer’s income, hence most never thought of the economic potential and great job opportunities that a crop like moringa has. Regrettably, Nigeria has the potential to produce one of the best species of moringa, yet have refused to tap into this.
Moringa, (Moringa Oleifera) native to Africa and Asia, is according to experts one of the most nutrient-rich plants in the world and is becoming increasingly available around the world because of its many health and economic benefits that directly impacts on human existence.
The tree of life
It is called the tree of life in many cultures around the world, including Nigeria. It is called various local names in Nigeria which include “Ewe Igbale” in Yoruba, “Zogelle” in Hausa and “Idagbomunonye” in Igbo. In fact, in 2008 the National Institute of Health called moringa the “plant of the year,” acknowledging that “perhaps like no other single species, this plant has the potential to help reverse multiple major environmental problems and provide for many unmet human needs.
Moringa is known by over 100 names in different languages around the world. This easy-to-grow tropical plant species, native to the Himalayan Mountains and parts of India and Africa, comes packed with over 90 protective compounds, including isothiocyanates, flavonoids and phenolic acids.
There are actually believed to be at least a dozen different varieties of the moringa tree, which belong to the plant family Moringaceae. These are fast-growing, tall, leafy plants that produce flowers or pods. Moringa plant was found to be a better biofuel than Jatropha plant.
Farming Moringa in Nigeria
Despite the huge economic benefits of moringa, most Nigeria farmers are yet to key into farming it.
According to experts, Nigeria is said to be capable of generating N500 billion annually from farming moringa alone, and can provide thousands of jobs for the youth. Experts that are into moringa farming in Nigeria have said that moringa is very easy to plant and maintain, and has the capability to turn farmers into millionaires yearly with huge local and international market.
The Managing Director, Eden Moringa, and Allied Agricultural Products and the Chairman, Eden Group Farmers Multi-purpose Cooperative Society Limited, Mr. Michael Ashimashiga Akoloaga, while launching some of its products approved by NAFDAC for sale and export on Friday in Abuja, said Nigerian government should empower Nigerians with necessary tools to farm moringa as it is huge enough to lift millions out of poverty.
It can generate N500,000 monthly
He called on young farmers to key into farming of moringa saying, one hectare of moringa farm can generate as much as N500,000 monthly, yet easy to cultivate and maintain. While also urging government across all levels to encourage moringa farmers as this can solve the problem of unemployment and insecurity in the country.
“We are here to tell President Muhammadu Buhari that his vision to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty can be achieved through moringa farming. Currently, with the machines installed in our factory, we need nothing less than 600 workers per day and 60,000 hectares of land to meet up the raw materials needed to service it. Nigeria currently cannot meet up with the moringa needed for our machines to work to full capacity.
“The government must look at the citizens and empower them with funds to farm moringa. We cannot over emphasise the economic potentials of this crop. For us as a cooperative, our target is within six and seven billion naira monthly. We also encourage the government to take advantage of this to generate for foreign direct investment.
Huge IGR from moringa farming
“Government can generate huge IGR from moringa farming by encouraging the youth with fund to farm moringa, with this, the government can generate hundreds of billions of naira from this. Enlist your youth in moringa farming and we will assist them to get the best from this sector.
“However we will need to provide those willing to go into farming with seeds, because if they plan untreated seeds, we cannot uptake their products. As it is today, we can’t meet up with the demand of our produce, we are exporting our products across Asia and meddle East, hence we need more raw materials.
“Based on commitment, we now have four approval from NAFDAC which are the e-moringa tea, e-moringa powder, e-moringa cake and the vegetable oil infused with moringa. The other ones which are herbal are still in processing.
“We are encouraging farmers that in order to gain recognition and yield on a particular crop, it is better to plant moringa which gives more yield.
“Cultivating one plot of moringa is just like cultivating 20 plots of rice because what one plot of moringa will give you, 20 plots of rice will never give it to you. One plot of moringa gives you N500, 000 every month, after harvest”.
“We are encouraging all farmers to key into this, they should look into this product that has been naturally given to humanity, as source of life changing, empowerment and poverty eradication.
“We have Hungary, Canada, Dubai, and Saudi Arabia, that we export our products to.
“In terms of economic benefit, our targets here every month is not less than N6-N7 billion with the little resources available to us.
“They can make hundreds of billions of naira if they can invest in it, we have all it takes to achieve.
“We are working toward developing a more hygiene packaging material rather than nylon. “We are looking for best alternative for our packaging and what ever safe method and material of packaging experts advise us will be used,” he said.
Also, the National President of Moringa Farmers, Dr. Shuiabu Adamu, said moringa farmers are fully in business.
Adamu who said investment in moringa can reverse the challenges of medical tourism in Nigeria said Nigeria needs two millions farmers to meet up with the international demand of the produce.
He said with NAFDAC’s approval of Eden farms products for local and international sale, no farmer will regret spending time farming moringa.
Adamu who said he makes N250,000 monthly from his five hectares moringa farm and ready to expand same to 500 hectares called on civil servants to see it as retirement project.
A 2010 study in the Research Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacodynamics confirmed that the leaves of the moringa tree are a powerful natural adaptogen.
Studies also indicate that adaptogens not only help the body to cope with stress, but can enhance general health and performance. Moringa seed oil is beneficial for protecting hair against free radicals and keeps it clean and healthy.
Moringa also contains protein, which means it is helpful in protecting skin cells from damage. It also contains hydrating and detoxifying elements, which also boost the skin and hair. It can be successful in curing skin infections and sores. It is used in the treatment of edema, a painful condition where fluid builds up in specific tissues in the body. The anti-inflammatory properties of moringa may be effective in preventing edema from developing.
It protects the liver against damage
Morninga also protects the liver against damage caused by anti-tubercular drugs and can quicken its repair process, while preventing and treating cancer as its extracts contain properties that might help prevent cancer developing. It also contains niazimicin, which is a compound that suppresses the development of cancer cells.
Moringa extracts might help treat some stomach disorders, such as constipation, gastritis, and ulcerative colitis. The antibiotic and antibacterial properties of moringa may help inhibit the growth of various pathogens, and its high vitamin B content helps with digestion.
Due to its antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties, moringa extracts might combat infections caused by Salmonella, Rhizopus, and E. coli.