Moringa oleifera Lam is a plant that has been praised for its health benefits for thousands of years. Recently in South Africa, claims by indigenous hearers about the healing properties of medicinal plants has raised health concerns. This compels scientific research to validate the claims and preserve the medicinal plants.
The Agricultural Research Centre (ARC) of South Africa is one of the research bodies looking into Moringa. We went there on a field trip as part of the Third Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD3) where we saw first hand the innovative research approaches leading to value addition on indigenous medicinal plants in South Africa. This result-oriented research can increase income of both research institutions and household farmers through the processing of agricultural produces into a number of branded products.
The agro-processing department of the ARC develops products out of Moringa tree such as food supplement tablets, Moringa ice teas, vitamin water, Moringa Yoghurt, and Moringa Powders and sells to local and international markets. Though Moringa is consumed unprocessed in countries such as India, the ARC making massive profits out of these assorted Moringa products.
Their research has proved that Moringa is 7 times the vitamin C of Orange, 10 times the vitamin A of carrot, 17 times the calcium of milk, 15 times the potassium of banana, and 25 times the iron of spinach.
From the research conducted at ARC, Moringa leaves are extremely good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, and C, minerals and sulphur-containing amino acids which is important for human and animal nutrition. Leaves are used to treat the following diseases:
- Fever and Cough
- Blood pressure
- Eye and ear infection
- Skin infection
This result-oriented research was an eye opener to me. As a younger agricultural entrepreneur and researcher, I realised that involving local household farmers in the design, development and implementation of research results is the key to realizing a long term sustainable agribusiness business strategy. This is also an important lesson for other research institutions in Africa who need to base their research activities on already existing local ideas.
Blogpost by Robert Kibaya, #GCARD3 Social Reporter – robkib(at)gmail.com
This post is part of the live coverage during the #GCARD3 Global Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, 5-8 April 2016. This post is written by one of our social reporters, and represents the author’s views only.