Moringa business is another goldmine for an entrepreneur that is looking for an area to invest in.
Starting your own Moringa business

Feyisayo Popoola

Moringa oleifera is a plant that is often called the drumstick tree, the miracle tree, the ben oil tree, or the horseradish tree.

Moringa has been used for centuries due to its medicinal properties and health benefits. It also has antifungal, antiviral, antidepressant, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Moringa is native to India but also grows in Asia, Africa, and South America.

Moringa business is another goldmine for an entrepreneur that is looking for an area to invest in.

According to the Agropreneur, Moringa business is one of the best agribusinesses that are highly profitable with low investment cost as it gives a quick return in the same year of investment.

Prospective investors can invest in Moringa seedling production, plantation, processing, feed production, health, cosmetics, marketing and export, etc.

 Examples of moringa products are moringa powder, moringa capsule, moringa tablet, moringa oil, moringa beverages (tea), moringa chocolate, moringa hormone,   moringa soap, moringa lotion, etc.

The export market for Moringa is increasing at over 30 per cent rate. Moringa products, most especially, the seeds and leaves have been exported to the United States, United Kingdom, China and other countries.

Whichever sector an entrepreneur decides to specialise on in Moringa production is bound to generate as much revenue as possible, as there are so many benefits of the product.

Medical benefits

Moringa, when taken by mouth can cure asthma, anaemia, arthritis, cancer, constipation, diabetes, epilepsy, stomach pain, heart problems, ulcers, high blood pressure, kidney stones, among others.

It can also be used to increase breast milk production, control birth, stimulate immunity, increase sex drive and can act as a nutritional supplement.

When applied to the skin, Moringa can be used to treat athlete’s foot, dandruff, warts, skin infections, snakebites, gum disease, among others.

Financial benefits                 

According to The Journal of Humanities and Social Science, trade in leafy vegetables is financially rewarding; but Moringa leaves have superior commercial values vis-à-vis the agricultural vegetables.

It said trading in Moringa vegetable was, therefore, more reliable in supplementing income to traders of leafy vegetables.

Starting your own Moringa farm

There are various steps involved in starting a Moringa farm, according to Agropreneur. They are:

Site selection: Choose an area where the soil is well drained. Avoid clay soils that become sticky when wet and very hard when dry. Avoid termite-infested soils as much as possible. It should be an open area to receive full sunlight. The site must be protected from free roaming animals by an adequate natural or artificial fence.

Seed propagation: Purchase or collect your supply of seeds from reliable sources. A good seed should be viable, clean and disease free. Seeds should not be stored over long periods,. as they lose viability (germination capacity) after about one year. There are around 4,000 moringa seeds (with their shell) in a kilogram. Seeds may be sown in a polythene bag or directly in the field. Seeds must be sown at a maximum depth of two centimetres. One or two seeds per pit can be sown. If the two seeds germinate, the weaker plant can be removed after they reach about 30cm.

Moringa seeds germinate five to 12 days after seeding. If the seed has not germinated after two weeks, it will not and must be replaced. If neither of the two seeds germinates, the pit must be opened to check if there is a localised insect attack (ants or termites). If this is the case, the pit must be treated with a neem leaf solution or, better yet, with neem oil mixed with soapy water. Then seeding can be done again.

Planting: For intensive leaf production, the spacing of plants should be 15 x 15cm or 20 x 10cm, with conveniently spaced alleys (for example every four metres) to facilitate plantation management and harvests. Another option is to space the seeding lines 45cm apart and to sow every five centimetres on those lines. One can also space the lines only 30cm apart and sow at a larger distance on the lines (10 to 20 cm).

Seed production: Spacing must be much wider for fruit or seed production. Trees must be at least 2.5 m apart. Line and peg using a three by three metre triangular pattern for seed-producing farms. This will optimise plant population density.

Management: Moringa requires a lot of care and maintenance to produce the expected yields. As Moringa oleifera tends to produce long branches that grow vertically and produce leaves and fruits only at their extremity, yields will be low if the trees are left to grow naturally. The tree can grow to heights of about three to four metres in the first year and continue to about 10-12 metres thereafter. It is therefore essential to give the trees a good shape when they are young, by enhancing lateral branching thus creating bushy growth.

Pinching the terminal bud on the central stem is necessary when the tree attains a height of 50cm to one metre. This will trigger the growth of lateral branches which must be pinched too. This will promote the growth of many lateral branches, increase yields and reduce the height of the tree.

In addition, pinching reduces damage due to heavy winds and makes harvesting much easier. Pinching can be done with the fingernails as the stems are tender. If the trees are older and pinching was not carried out early enough, the terminal stem can be cut with a sharp tool, just above a node. Cutting in the internodes will cause the rotting of the stem all the way down to the node below the cut, and will give way to diseases and parasites.

Weeding must be done regularly to avoid competition for nutrients, especially for nitrogen. If not weeded properly, the trees produce fewer leaves and the leaves at the base of the plant begin to turn yellow. Weeding must be more frequent when the plantation is young and the trees are small, allowing light to reach the soil. It is advisable to weed an adult plantation at least four times a year, with a higher frequency during rain seasons.

Fertilisation: Moringa can produce large quantities of leaves, but only if it receives enough organic supplements. Its leaves are rich in proteins and minerals, which means that the soil needs to provide enough nitrogen and minerals to the plants. Instead of chemical fertiliser, farmyard manure (animal dung mixed with plant residue) or compost (plant residue left to decompose on a heap) can provide the necessary nutrients as well as improve the soil structure.

Pruning: Maintenance pruning is required. This can be done at each harvest, if the leaves are removed by cutting all the stems above a certain height. If leaves are harvested by plucking, or if the trees are left unharvested during the dry season, the bushy shape can be lost and a good pruning must be done at the onset of the rainy season. In seed-producing farms, pruning helps induce more fruits, as well as larger fruits. Break the terminal bud when the plant is about one meter high to stimulate branching.

Source: Punch Newspaper


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