Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Plant Moringa Trees for Hunger and Hope
Moringa oleifera is a nutritive fast-growing tree, which is native to India. I learned about this tree a couple of years ago from my friend Aminu Ibrahim from our SolarNetOne project at Katsina State University in Nigera. and I just had to try growing it. This tree has been shown to be capable of reducing malnutrition in areas of West Africa where 25% of children die of malnutrition or related diseases. This plant grows well in areas such as these with drought and poor soil, and it grows wild in many areas where hunger is a severe problem. Locally grown Moringa was used in Senegal to significantly reduce malnutrition in infants, nursing mothers and pregnant women in Senegal by adding a small amount of leaf powder to the diet. Moringa is exceptionally nutrient dense. It has the highest protein ratio of any known plant, and contains all essential amino acids (those that the body cannot synthesize). There are no known side effects to taking Moringa, and it is very easy to digest. 25 grams (0.88 oz) of dried Moringa provides the suggested daily requirements for children: 42% protein, 125% calcium, 60% magnesium, 41% potassium, 71% iron, 272% vitamin A, and 22% vitamin C.
Here is a video that I found about Moringa's use in Senegal.
I have been growing Moringa in Central Florida (USDA zone 9a) for the last two years. I purchased my seed from Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO) in Fort Myers Florida. ECHO is a non profit whose mission is to network with community leaders in developing countries to seek hunger solutions for families growing food under difficult conditions. I was very happy that my Moringa trees survived the freeze we had over the winter. The Moringa tree pictured in this blog post is of my largest tree a couple of months after the freeze. New branches grew up from the base after the freeze killed the above-ground portion. I am told that this tree will grow very well from woody cuttings. I have also learned that this plant can be grown indoors if UV light is available. My brother has started a facebook group to promote growing and sharing about this plant. My next step with this plant will be to get trees started from seed or cutting at the Fair Share Garden in Daytona Beach. "Fair Share" is an Urban Garden Project of Salt of the Earth, Inc. a 501(c)-3 nonprofit organization. The purpose of the garden is to grow food for local low income families in need.