News Detail [ID: 89]

Moringa oleifera - A promising approach to combat malnutrition?

Photo: Moringa oleifera

Bonn | Germany | 12 Apr 2017
Moringa oleifera, commoly referred to as “The Miracle Tree”, is one of the world’s most useful plants. Originally native to India, the tree is grown within tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. Moringa oleifera tolerates a wide range of environmental conditions, costs little to plant, is relatively easy to grow, maintain and utilize and offers a high yield of leaves. 

Advantages of oleifera

The leaves are a rich source of a variety of macro- and micronutrients. What started as a traditional practice and knowledge is now widely used by international development agencies to combat malnourishment and micronutrient deficiencies. Such a locally produced food-based approach offers a variety of advantages in the development context. Besides its high nutrient content, the plant provides individual households and agricultural societies a sustainable food source and microfinance opportunities by selling Moringa derived products on local markets. As an animal feed Moringa oleifera obtains good results in domestic livestock farming. Feeding the different plant parts results in improved production of meat, eggs and milk. Additionally, the seeds of Moringa oleifera can be used for water purification. The ground seeds are natural coagulants and have shown to be very effective in the treatment of high turbidity water. Besides its use as a nutritional supplement and as a water purifier, its antibacterial activity against different pathogens has gained attention. A recent study was able to proof efficacy of the leaves as a hand washing product both in dried and wet preparation. As hand washing after defecation and before handling food is an essential practice to prevent pathogen transmission, Moringa oleifera could be very useful in places where soap or water is not sufficiently available.

GIZ involvement

The GIZ global program Food and Nutrition Security, Enhanced Resilience which is financed by the One World – No Hunger initiative is promoting Moringa in many countries in Africa and Asia as an efficient and cost-saving way to enrich people´s diets with necessary mirco- and macro nutrients, thus, creating a future for them through better nutrition.

Once the leaves are harvested and cleaned, they can either be used fresh in meals or as a dried leaf powder which can be stored and used throughout the year. However, the nutritious leaves are probably underutilized because of their slightly bitter taste to many people. The importance of taste in food acceptance plays a crucial role in determining the success of food and nutrition intervention programs. Acceptance of Moringa as a nutritional supplement is especially likely in cultures already using green leafy plant sources for cooking. In this way, traditional dishes can be substituted or fortified with Moringa. Moreover, diversity along with knowledge of local nutritious food sources can be re-introduced into the diet and culture. As proper cooking methods are indispensable for a good nutrient retention, cooking methods need to be evaluated to ensure that individuals are benefiting from the leaves as expected.

The GIZ global program Food and Nutrition Security, Enhanced Resilience which is financed by the One World – No Hunger initiative is promoting Moringa in many countries in Africa and Asia as an efficient and cost-saving way to enrich people´s diets with necessary mirco- and macro nutrients, thus, creating a future for them through better nutrition.

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