The Raw Material Development and Research Institute of Nigeria and the Moringa Development Association of Nigeria have called on farmers, investors and the government to put more resources into the cultivation and processing of moringa oleifera so as to make the product available for all Nigerians and create more jobs.
They, during a stakeholders’ programme at the House of Chiefs in Ibadan last week, said the health benefiFemi Ibirogba ts of moringa could not be overemphasised considering the disease burden of hypertension and cancer, among others, which the plant helps in preventing.
Acting Executive Director of National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB), Dr Sunday Aladele, said Nigeria had not maximised the benefits embedded in the plant, saying China had taken full advantage of the precious plant.
“The young immature moringa oleifera pods are the most valued and widely used of all the tree parts. The pods are extremely nutritious, containing essential amino acids, forming a complete protein source, and many vitamins, minerals, co-enzymes and antioxidants. Highly valued moringa oil is extracted from the pods, and even the remaining seed cake does not go to waste. The seed cake can be used as a coagulant to clarify dirty and turbid water,” Aladele said.
Moringa leaves are among the most protein-densed leaves of any plant species. They contain high levels of Vitamin A comparable to carrots, calcium comparable to milk, and Vitamin C comparable to oranges, as well as high amount of other vitamins, antioxidants and minerals.
The thickened root is used as a substitute for horseradish although this is now discouraged as it contains alkaloids, especially moriginine, and a bacteriocide, spirochin. The leaves are eaten as greens in salads, in vegetable curries, as pickles and for seasoning. They can be pounded up and used for scrubbing utensils and for cleaning walls. Leaves and young branches are eaten by livestock as antibiotics, especially poultry.
Chief (Mrs) Grace Oluwatoye, National Vice-President/Coordinator, South-West Zone, Moringa Development Association of Nigeria, said: “The challenges of farmers include unavailability of capital to drive scale; lack of access to funding/low cost financing; weather/climate change challenges; lack of irrigation and fertiliser; transportation difficulties; inadequate training on processing; high maintenance costs and lack of storage facilities leading to wastage of millions of leaves planted.”
She appealed to the government at all levels and commercial banks to facilitate credit facilities in order to empower members of the association to produce and process the plant in commercial quantities.