Development and analysis of Moringa oleifera for improved health and nutrition
The purpose of the present research shall be to improve the fruit and seed yield of Moringa oleifera in Kenya thus enabling farmers to maximize benefits from this species by increased production per unit area for food, fodder and water purification. There is a high increase in human population, reduction of available land for cultivation and a high demand for quality food. We should research more on nutrition sensitive agriculture which is land intensive. We have proposed Moringa Oleifera as a suitable candidate to satisfy sustainably this gap. Moringa oleifera belongs to a monogeneric family of shrubs and trees, the Moringaceae. M. oleifera (common name: annual drumstick) is indigenous to North West India. The tree is has been naturalized in Kenya and is a fast growing drought resistant plant that in less than three months it can attain a height of 2.5m and is able to fruits in about 6 months. The plant has multiple purposes with its seeds having flocculation and antimicrobial properties rendering it useful for biological water purification with 90-99% reduction of bacterial contamination. The seed also produces oil which is edible and is used in cosmetic industries. The leaves of M. oleifera are eaten as vegetables and have the potential to serve as a valuable source of beta-carotene. Other parts of M. oleifera used as food are green pods, flowers and roasted seeds. Finally, the leaves and shoots of Moringa are used as fodder for livestock.
Considering the potential use of Moringa in improved nutrition, hunger-aid and water supplies in rural areas of tropical developing countries, this study endeavors to optimize the production of the plant for maximum economic gain.
The specific objectives of this study are to:
i) select high fruit and seed yielding trees within the local Moringa provenances;
ii) optimize the planting and silvicultural practices for improved production;
iii) establish high yielding clonal and seedling seed orchards;
iv) introduce improved germplasm from other countries,
v) do molecular analysis and fingerprinting of promising varieties,
vi) optimize Moringa seeds for water purification vii) determine the efficacy of Moringa seeds as a coagulant in household water treatment;
viii) create awareness of moringa growing and utilization especially its efficacy in water treatment among small scale farmers.