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Growing and processing moringa leaves

The story of moringa


Within the past ten years, Moringa oleifera, a tropical, multipurpose tree has grown from being practically unknown, even unheard of, to being a new and promising nutritional and economic resource for developing countries. The leaves, which are easy to grow and rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals, are becoming widely used in projects fighting against malnutrition. Producing moringa leaves is also a means of generating agricultural income, developing the food processing industry and founding new businesses.
Native to India, the moringa tree grows widely in Africa, where, up until recently, it was used solely around houses to form hedges or to give shade. Occasionally it was used for medicinal purposes or collected for food. The Haussa from Niger and Nigeria, who eat the moringa leaves as a vegetable, are the only ones who have been, for decades now, growing and selling this product.
At the end of the 1980s, when moringa was being studied by a few researchers, uniquely for its water-treatment properties1, I "discovered" moringa leaf farming in Niger and how profitable it was. A fieldtrip in India allowed me to further my knowledge alongside agronomists and farmers involved in moringa fruit production2.
Those observations and the South-South exchanges that followed were very helpful in developing moringa leaf farming in Africa.
During the 90s, researchers, businesses and NGOs helped further develop moringa agronomics, the use of its leaves in food and its seeds in oil production or water treatment.
In 2001, I organised an international conference in Tanzania to help foster a network of people most involved in developing moringa as well as to assess what knowledge and know-how had been established. As an outcome, the Moringanews network and website were created.
In 2006, in Ghana, I brought together, for a second conference, around one hundred organisations and businesses working on the moringa leaf. These international conferences and the Moringanews website have heavily contributed to developing the knowledge and the uses of moringa.
At the same time, American NGOs such as the Church World Service in Senegal and ECHO in Mauritania promoted the use of moringa leaf powder. The nutritional values of moringa powder are highly concentrated. A few grams a day can help fight against vitamin, mineral and protein deficiencies. For these projects, moringa leaf powder was used exclusively for a specific population and was well

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Additional Info

  • Author: Dr Armelle de Saint Sauveur et Dr Mélanie Broin