Private group wants massive planting of moringa
A GROUP of moringa oleifera growers is pushing anew its call for the government and private-sector support for the massive production of malunggay (moringa oleifera) trees across the country as it sees the demands for malunggay food and health products, and biofuel rising locally and around the globe, an official of the group said.
“We are coming up with a national plan of action, with a vision of improving people’s health and strengthening the economy of the country through malunggay production,” Moringa Growers Federation of the Philippines Inc. (MGFPI) Executive Vice President Dr. Ponciano F. Aberin said.
The federation spoke with Vice President Jejomar Binay seeking his endorsement to the Department of Agriculture (DA), he said. The DA can help moringa growers tap the provinces and municipalities nationwide.
“We hope to have a malunggay tree in every home, a plantation in every province, so that we would be able to produce malunggay leaves, which are very nutritious, to meet commercial volume,” said Aberin, who is a retired medical doctor.
Moringa or malunggay leaves are rich in vitamin B-complex and protein, he said. The leaves are “very high” in vitamin C and contains antioxidant, which protects the body from cancer.
“Malunggay leaves are also rich in vitamin A, higher than carrots,” Aberin said. “That’s why even doctors recommend it for breast-feeding mothers.”
The green tiny leaves are potential export products, he added. Rich in vitamins and minerals, they are a good health component of sausages, noodles, bread and other food products.
Japan, for one, has a tremendous need for moringa leaves, Aberin said. Based on the topographic and geologic situation, the Philippines is capable of meeting the demand for moringa products of the entire Asian continent and other countries.
Livelihood and employment will be generated for local farmers and people as a result, he said.
Right now, the federation is developing 5 hectares of malunggay plantations in the provinces of Batangas, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija, Aberin said.
The federation proposes to set up at least a 1,000-hectare malunggay plantation in every province to meet local and overseas demand for moringa products, he said.
The plantations could be a government or private land, he added. Local and foreign investors can put their stakes.
Malunggay leaves can be processed into vitamin B-complex, vitamin A and vitamins C capsules, since the green tiny leaves are rich in said vitamins, Aberin said. The moringa pods, which are rich in oil, can be squeezed for biofuel.
“Moringa biofuel, which is more efficient than biodiesel, is a potential export,” he said. “North America has a tremendous need. Europe also has a demand.”
A document of the federation states that moringa oil also possesses “exceptional cooking properties” for its oxidative stability, and light and pleasant taste.
“Due to its light texture, moringa oil is widely used for body massage and aroma therapy,” the document said. “It also has some healing properties for skin allergies, irritations, wounds, blemishes and stretch marks.”
Moringa oil also contains collagen, four times more potent than carrot oil, the document said. It is a component of today’s soap, shampoos, perfumes and other skin-care products.
About 30 percent to 40 percent of the pods can be juiced for biofuel, as documented by the DA, Aberin said. The technology to process moringa oil into biofuel is currently available.
The cost of moringa biofuel production is cheaper than tapping jatropha for biofuel, he said. The government had spent billions of pesos on jatropha, with millions of pesos going to waste.
Together, the investors, the government and the federation can acquire the technology for the production of moringa biofuel, and food and health products, Aberin said.
A memorandum of agreement shall involve academe, like the University of the Philippines (UP) System, in coming up with strategies and biotechnology, Aberin said. Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, may be included later.
“We have already had a series of meetings,” he said. “The UP System will provide areas for seedling productions.”
“We are also working very closely with the Muslims,” he said. “I recommend that this ‘miracle tree’ be adopted by the Bangsamoro. I think we can get investors from Malaysia.”
With livelihood and a strong economy, the prospect for peace and development in Mindanao will prosper, Aberin said. Harnessing the potentials of moringa may also strengthen the country’s economy.
The federation was established in 2006 in response to the call of the DA and the National Anti-Poverty Commission call for the nationwide planting of moringa. Today MGFPI also campaigns to adopt malunggay as the national tree.