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Moringa and the Lost Crops of Africa

Moringa and the Lost Crops of Africa

Apr 11, 16
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Moringa-NourishingEver thought you might be in on the start of something big, well this could be it! The Moringa Tree is one of the most nutritious plants on our planet, and at this point in time is a relative secret to the rest of the world.

As volunteers for VPWA, we are using the growing of this tree to aid the poor farmers of Ghana. This video is aimed at winning a grant to establish a processing plant, which will fulfil the missing link to taking Moringa products to market.

This extremely fast growing woody species (Moringa oleifera, Moringaceae) doesn’t look like much, but it could open up a new category of crops: “vegetable trees.” Moringa produces long pods with the appearance of giant green beans and the taste of asparagus. It also produces masses of very small leaflets that are boiled and eaten like spinach. Being so small, the leaflets sun dry in just a few hours and can then be put in a jar and stored for the off-season, a time when dietary minerals and vitamins are often scarce. In addition to providing these natural supplements, the moringa tree yields seeds that clarify turbid water. Compounds in its seeds make traces of silt and clay settle out as effectively as the alum our water departments use. In the rural tropics, moringa seeds could be employed to make water safer for drinking and cooking. Taken all round, this species could be a powerful new weapon against two great scourges, malnutrition and water-borne disease.

Lost Crops of Africa

Obviously, something must be done about all the neglected crops of Africa. Early in 1996 we at the NRC will publish a 400 page book showcasing the promising native cereals. Then we’d like to compile a volume dealing with the several dozen highly promising African fruits. Later, we hope to complete a volume covering the equal number of promising native vegetables. For all those forgotten African food plants there is presently no readily available promotional materials, let alone guides to such things as nutritional content, soil and climatic limits, varieties that yield the most nutritious parts, or the best ways to prevent pests. Given a little attention, however, these plants are potential wonder weapons against hunger. This is particularly because they are adapted to the challenging conditions and to the needs of Africans.

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