"It is hard to rein in the use of superlatives when describing the benefits of the Moringa oleifera tree, long known to rural Haitians for its highly nutritious leaves eaten raw or added to soup," said Hugh Locke, President of the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA), when announcing a commercial Moringa production study in Haiti. "Rich in vitamins A, B, C, D and E, the leaves also contain unusually high levels of calcium, potassium and protein. In addition, the tree's abundant bean seeds contain oil that has a range of applications."
Moringa's rising popularity in Haiti—where it is also known as benzoliv, doliv and gabriyel—has been marked by a government-led awareness campaign promoting the tree's benefits and cultivation, particularly aimed at schools. Michel Chancy, secretary of state for animal production with the ministry of agriculture, has been leading these efforts and sees the tree's additional value as fodder for livestock and poultry, as well as feed for fish farming.
"Moringa has tremendous potential as a nutritional supplement," said chef Jose Andres, whose World Central Kitchen organization helps deliver food-based programs to improve conditions in Haiti, "and particularly if it translates to an opportunity to support smallholder farmers."
The SFA study, which is made possible with support from the Embassy of the Netherlands in the Dominican Republic, is focused primarily on two areas—the potential of local production of dried Moringa leaves to be used as a nutritional supplement and of oil extracted from Moringa seeds for use in the cosmetics industry. The research is being conducted with an emphasis on the potential for small-scale farmers to be involved in both growing and processing Moringa.
The study aims to provide an overview of the current market for Moringa products, including opportunities and requirements for market entry. It will also analyze the requirements to grow and process Moringa on an expanded commercial scale in Haiti.
In order for the study to have maximum impact, input is being provided by a very diverse group that includes AIM-Ayiti (Association Internationale Moringa Ayiti), Ayiti Natives, Ayiti Organics, FAO-Haiti, Fondation Seguin, l'Athletique d/Haiti, Kreyol Essence, Nomad Two Worlds, North Coast Development Corporation, Sakala, Trees That Feed Foundation, World Central Kitchen and Wynne Farm Ecological Reserve.
The study is being conducted over a three-month period and will result in a report to be published before the end of the year presenting findings and recommendations. In the course of responding to requests for market information, a variety of international companies have already expressed interest in sourcing Moringa from Haiti.
SOURCE Smallholder Farmers Alliance