Intensive Moringa Leaves Cultivation

Moringa business is another goldmine for Agropreneur looking for area to invest in. Moringa business is one of the best agribusiness that is highly profitable with low investment cost. This business gives quick return in the same year of investment. There are many investment opportunities in moringa business. Prospective investors can invest in Moringa Seedling Production, Moringa Plantation (either for leave or seed production), Moringa Processing, Moringa Based Feed Production, Moringa Health, Moringa Cosmetics, Moringa 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.  
Moringa (Moringa oleifera) is a fasting growing, drought resistant shrub. It is a well researched plant, which is essentially cultivated for its leaves, fruits (seeds) and roots. Moringa is native to the Indian sub-continent, however, Moringa has spread throughout the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. It has been planted in Ghana, Philippines, Nigeria, Brazil, Kenya, Rwanda, Niger, Mozambique, Cambodia and Haiti. Currently, Moringa seeds has the highest economic value, even the demand for the seeds is increasing on daily basis. One tonne of moringa seeds can be sold between N2,000,000 - N4,000,000 million ($7,000 - $15,000). The leaves is N100 - N200/kg ($0.35 -$1/kg). More revenue/profit can be got from value added moringa products.
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 USA, UK, China and African countries. It is important to know that there are standard for regulating moringa products export. Leaves export companies are now making shift towards organic leaves and usage of solar driers. Moringa leaves have applications in neutraceutical, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. Solar drying is superior to open drying because of the better quality, colour and hygiene. Hence, it is necessary to dry the leaves in a controlled manner.
When you want to establish moringa plantation, choose either PKM-1 or PKM-2. PKM moringa is the World's highest yielding Moringa Oleifera Specie in terms of pod size, seed no and oil volume. The product has longer shelf life, non-bitter taste, high purity, excellent germination, high immunity against pests and diseases. Moreover, it is suitable for industrial/agricultural usage.
PKM 1 and 2 was developed and released by Tamil Nadu Agricultural University Periyakulam, India in 1989 and 2000 respectively.

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Moringa PKM-1: is a pure line selection from seed moringa type collected from Eppothumvendran of Tirunelveli district. It is propagated through seeds. Harvest occurs in 7 - 8 months; Pods are 75 cm long; Individual fruit weight is 150 g; 218 pods/tree; Yield  is 52.8t/ha and suitable for 4 ratoons.
Moringa PKM-2: It is a hybrid derivative developed by cross between MP31 X MP28. It is propagated through seeds. Harvest occurs in 7-8 months; Pods are 125 cm long; It is 70% more fleshy; Individual fruit weight is 280g; 220 pods/tree; Yield is 98 tonnes/ha and suitable for 3 ratoons.
Moringa Seeds
Here are some of the many common names for Moringa: English (Drumstick tree, Horse Radish tree), Spanish (Morango), Nigeria (Ewe-ile), French (Benzolive), Benin (Patima), Burkinafaso (Argentiga), Cameroun (Paizlava), Ethiopia (Aleko), Kenya (Mronge), Ghana (Yevu-ti), Niger (Zogla-gandi), Thailand (Marum), Murunga (India),  Kalor (Indonesia),  Mulangai (Philippines), Cedro (Brazil) Marango (Nicaragua) etc.
What is it called in your own language? 

Moringa is traditionally known as Wonder Plant because of it numerous uses in Nutrition, Disease Prevention, Ointment, Alley Cropping, Fertilizer, Erosion Control, Water Purification, Cosmetics, Textile Printing, Insecticide, Fungicide, Lubricants, Tanning Leather, Dye, Fiber Products, Fences, Ornamentation and Shade, Wind Barrier, Cane Juice Clarifier, Honey Production, Condiment, Cooking Oil, Honey Clarifier and  Food.
It also finds application in the treatment of Anaemia, Anxiety, Asthma, Blackheads, Blood impurities, Blood pressure, Bronchitis, Catarrh, Chest congestion, Cholera, Colitis, Conjunctivitis, Blood impurities, Blood pressure, Bronchitis, Catarrh, Cough, Diabetes, Diarrhea, Dropsy, Dysentery, Eye and ear infections, Fever, Glandular , swelling Gonorrhea, Headaches, Hysteria, Intestinal worms, Jaundice, Lactation, Malaria, Pain in joints, Pimples, Pregnancy, Psoriasis, Respiratory disorders, Scurvy, Semen deficiency, Skin infections, Sore throat, Sores, Sprain, Stomach ulcers, Tuberculosis, Tumor, Urinary disorders and Wound.
Moringa Oil (Refined)
Nutritional analysis reveals that Moringa leaves contain all the essential amino acids and wealth of complementary vitamins and minerals. In fact, they contain larger amounts of several important nutrients than the common foods often associated with these nutrients. These include; Vitamin C (7times the Vitamin C of Oranges), Vitamin A (4 times the Vitamin A of Carrots), Calcium (4 times the Calcium of Milk), Potassium (3 times the Potassium of Bananas), and Proteins (2 times the protein of Yoghurt).
Isn’t it wonderful?
Moringa Propagation

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 4000 moringa seeds (with their shell) in a kilogram. Seeds may be sown in polythene bag or directly in the field. Seeds must be sown at a maximum depth of 2 cm. One or two seeds per pit can be sown. If the two seeds germinate, the weaker plant can be removed after they reach about 30 cm. Moringa seeds germinate 5 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 germinate, the pit must be opened to check if there is a localized 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.
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Planting: For intensive leaf production, The spacing of plants should be 15 x 15 cm or 20 x 10 cm, with conveniently spaced alleys (for example: every 4 meters) to facilitate plantation management and harvests. Another option is to space the seeding lines 45 cm apart and to sow every 5cm on those lines. One can also space the lines only 30 cm 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 3 x 3 meter triangular pattern for seed-producing farms. This will optimize 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 3 to 4 meters in the first year and continue to about 10-12m 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 50 cm to 1 m. 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 finger nails 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 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 4 times a year, with a higher frequency during rain seasons.
Fertilization: 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 fertilizer, 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. The best fertilization is ensured by mixing fast decomposing residue (animal dung, green and soft plant residue) with slow decomposing residue (straw, dry plant residue and thin branches). Fertilization must be done during land preparation, before seeding. After it is important to apply manure or compost at least once a year, for instance before the rainy season, when the trees are about to start an intense growth period.

Hanging Moringa Pods

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.

Moringa Researchers
Many Scientists have carried out series of researches on Moringa. Foidl and Reyes revealed in their experiments that, Moringa trees can be planted very close together as a field crop, at a spacing as close as ten to fifteen centimeters. The moringa plants then grow as a field crop, and can be harvested frequently. This technique produces a large amount of usable green matter from a relatively small amount of space.
Reyes experiment shows that, Moringa trees can be intensively cultivated with no irrigation and small amounts of fertilizer, he was able to harvest the leaves every 75 days -four crops in a year. He got a total of 100 tons of green matter per hectare the first year, and 57 tons per hectare the second year, while, Foidl irrigated his Moringa plantation and used larger amounts of fertilizer. He reported harvesting every 35 days—nine crops per year—with a total yield of 650 to 700 tons of green matter per hectare. He says this yield has been consistent from the same plants for seven years.
Using this technique of intensive cultivation, plots of Moringa are planted on a rotation schedule, so that there is an ongoing supply of green matter. The plants are harvested 8 to 10 inches above the base, and all of the leaves and green shoots can be used. The green tops grow back in 35 to 75 days, and are ready to be harvested again.
Moringa Powder
 Both Foidl and Reyes have also experimented with using Moringa leaves and green shoots as a supplement in livestock fodder. Foidl found that adding Moringa leaves to cattle feed increased their daily weight gain by up to 32 percent. They also experimented with Moringa and milk cows. Foidl supplemented with 15 to 17 kilograms of fresh Moringa leaves daily, and the cattle’s milk production increased by 43 percent. Reyes supplemented his milk cows’ feed with 2 kg dry matter of Moringa per day, and milk production increased by 58 percent. Then he supplemented with 3 kg dry matter per day, and milk production increased by 65 percent.
Research has also shown that, spraying with moringa extract on the leaves of crops like sugarcane, soybeans, corn, turnips, black beans, red beans, white beans, cow peas, bell peppers, chia, sunflowers, mung beans, onions, coffee, tea, chili peppers, melons and sorghum increased crop yield. Foidl estimates that more than 4,400 cubic meters of methane could be produced per hectare of Moringa per year.
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