7 Importances of the Moringa Oleifera
Among the gifts of nature is the tree (Moringa Oleifera) popularly called “tree of life” because of its 100% constituent nature and benefits to man. There are about 12 species of Moringa in the Fauna Kingdom. The most common species is Moringa Oleifera because most research done in the areas of nutrition, water purification, and livestock feed, vegetable dyes, herbal medicine and oil production are based on the use of Oleifera species. It is also the most plentiful and widely cultivated. So, when we refer to Moringa, we are referring to Moringa Oleifera.
Moringa tree (Moringa Oleifera, Family: Moringaceae) is a native to northern India, but today it is common throughout the tropical and sub-tropical regions of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. This suggests that Moringa thrives in different climatic environment. In Nigeria, it is traditionally known among Hausas as “Zogaale” and Yoruba as “Igi-igbale”. Recently, Moringa has gained worldwode acceptance as recent discoveries on its nutritional, medicinal and industrial uses have been very exciting as researches have revealed that every part of the tree is very useful for its importance.
- Moringa Oleifera is 100% nature in its nutritional constituents such as vitamins, minerals, protein, antioxidants, oils and chlorophyll. This makes it stand out as the only tree that can supply the all needed nutritional diets for children, adolescents, adults and the aged at all times from one source.
- Moringa Oleifera seed is also rich in some substances which make it possible for the seeds to be used for water purification particularly in the rural communities. Ezeji in his paper in 2010 has established that the coagulant and disinfectant properties of moringa seed suspension made it possible in using moringa seeds in the treatment and purification of portable water to rural people.
- Research have established that moringa leaves fed to livestock as feed on daily basis or as supplements increase the wellbeing and health conditions of the animals such as increased carcass weight, increased nutritional diets like proteins and minerals and increased economic returns to farmers
- Moringa has been found useful for the treatment of diseases and ailments because of its active herbal ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, proteins, alkaloids, antioxidants and oil and chlorophyll. The specific will be treated under utilization of moringa.
- Moringa oil has tremendous cosmetic values and is used in body and hair care as a moisturizer and skin conditioner. Moringa oil is light and spreads easily on the skin. It is best for massage and aromatherapy applications. Moringa oil has been used in skin preparations and ointments since Egyptian times. This is very long lasting oil with a shelf life of up to 5 years
- Industrially, Moringa Oleifera provides raw materials in form of leaves, stems, roots, seeds and oils for industries (food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and animal feed), herbal centre, homes and laboratories for production of moringa products.
- Economically, moringa oleifera production, processing and utilization can be readily and sustainable means of livelihoods for the youths, women and other people like retiree and vulnerable: aged, widow and challenged people. When there is readily and sustainable means of livelihoods like production of moringa leaves and seeds and seedlings; processing and package of moringa products such as dried leaves, leave powder, seed powder or suspension, moringa tea and juice, moringa capsules and supplements, and moringa condiments; and marketing: pricing, distribution and consumption of all identified moringa products would not only provide jobs for people but regular income that pave way for sustainable improved level and standard of living.
- Indirectly, taking moringa oleifera as economic tree in Nigeria with the full complments of exercising all the enterprises in the value chains from production to marketing would meet some of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) such as reduction in the extreme hunger and poverty, food security and health for all in the year 2015.
As a policy, if item six above is committed for action, focused and vigorously pursued, many jobs would be created for the unemployed particularly the youths and the women. This was the focus of Lifebuilders Nigeria where 23 women from Ijaye community in Osun State were empowered on how to cultivate moringa plant on a large business scale supported by VGIF USA. Some of the women have been selling packed moringa seeds, dried leaves and leave powder to make money. It is now a viable means of livelihood to some of the women.
This is an excerpt from the paper presented by Professor Akinloye Jimoh Farinde at the inauguration of Moringa Development Association of Nigeria (MDAN), South West Zone titled “The Potential, Production, Processing and Utilization of Moringa Oleifera.