India's ancient tradition of
ayurveda medicine sites 300 diseases that are treated with the leaves of the
Moringa tree. Gram for gram, Moringa leaves contain:
Pure powdered capsules are organic and
absolutely safe. There are no known side effects. It's gentle enough to be
given to babies in Africa to overcome malnourishment. It's one of the most
secret performance enhancing products taken by athletes today who ingest
megadoses that help them physically and mentally. It's great for people of all
ages, especially oldsters who are losing their alertness
- 7 times the vitamin C in oranges
- 4 times the calcium in milk
- 4 times the vitamin A in carrots
- 2 times the protein in milk
- 3 times the potassium in bananas
STATUS OF PRODUCTION AND UTILISATION OF MORINGA
IN SOUTHERN INDIA
Moringa oleifera Lam belonging to the family Moringaceae is a handsome softwood tree, native of India, occurring wild in the sub-Himalayan regions of Northern India, and now grown world-wide in the tropics and sub-tropics. In India it is grown all over the subcontinent for its tender pods and also for its leaves and flowers. The pods of moringa are very popular vegetables in South Indian cuisine and valued for their distinctly inviting flavour. This is a backyard tree for daily use in more than two million homesteads of South India. Ancient Indian literature makes mention of moringa as an interesting plant due to its widespread use in agriculture, medicine and industry.
Since moringa is fast growing, drought tolerant and easily adapted to varied ecosystems and farming systems, it occupies a unique and consistent position in the Indian vegetable industry. Because of its many different uses, its free flowering nature and the ease with which it can be cultivated, the area required for it is on the increase, as is demand for its products.
The cultivation of moringa in India occurs mainly in thesouthern states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh. Principally perennial types have been known about for cultivation for a very long time. However, perennial types are beset with many production constraints, such as a relatively long pre-fruitbearing period, non availability of planting materials, requirement of a greater number of rainy days in regions where water is scarce, and vulnerability to pests and diseases.
Necessity being the mother of invention, scientists at the Horticultural College & Research Institute, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Periyakulam of South India have succeeded in developing seed- propagated moringa types, which has revolutionised the moringa industry in the country. Concerted efforts involving introduction, conservation, evaluation and breeding have resulted in the development of two promising high yielding annual moringa cultivars Periyakulam 1. (PKM-1) and Periyakulam. 2 (PKM- 2), which have showed definite superiority over perennial types.
These two seed grown annual moringa cultivars have suddenly replaced around 60% of the perennial moringa area in the southern states of India, spreading fast due to their adaptability to varied soil and climatic conditions. They represent a lion's share of moringa production in marginal and small farm holdings. In Southern India, more than 52,000 farmers are engaged in commercial cultivation of moringa as it is a highly remunerative crop. The annual net income that small farmers get from Moringa cultivation is around USD 600 per acre (or 1500 USD/hectare).
India is the largest producer of moringa with an annual production of 1.1 to 1.3 million tonnes of tender fruits from an area of 38,000 ha. Among the states, Andhra Pradesh leads in both area and production (15,665 ha) followed by Karnataka (10,280 ha) and Tamil Nadu (7,408 ha). In other states, it occupies an area of 4,613 ha. Tamil Nadu is the pioneering state insomuch as it has varied genotypes from diversified geographical areas, as well as introductions from Sir Lanka.
ECOTYPES AND CULTIVARS
There are only a few named varieties of moringa. One type, named Jaffna (yazhpanam) and grown in various parts of Southern India, produces fruits of 60-90 cm in length with soft, tasty flesh. It is presumed to have been introduced from Sri Lanka, where however, three more varieties are distinguished based on the colour and length of their pods. Another type introduced from Sri Lanka is Chavakacheri murungai producing fruits 90-120 cm long. Another regional type is chemmurungai (red tipped fruits), which is said to flower throughout the year and yield heavy crops. Kadumurungai is a wild type producing small inferior quality pods (Kadhar Mohideen et al.,1982)
Some other less popular types include Palmurungai and Puna murungai with thick pulp and a bitter taste and Kodikkal Murungai from betel vine growing areas of Tamil Nadu. Because of high heterozygosity, genotypes exists in varied geographical areas to be harnessed for crop improvement programmes (Sundaraj et al 1970).
The Horticultural College and Research Institute of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Periyakulam, had an assemblage of 85 moringa accessions. The germplasm collection block contains perennial and annual moringa accessions with heavy fruit-bearing, cluster bearing, drought tolerance, dwarfing stature and pest and disease resistance.
By judicious breeding programmes, including introduction of elite mother plants, evaluation, selection and hybridization, The Horticultural College & Research Institute of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University has released two improved annual moringa varieties (PKM-1, PKM-2) within a span of 10 years, for commercial cultivation. These varieties have developed up well in many traditional and non-traditional areas.(Sathashathi et al (1997).
CHARACTERISTICS OF PKM-1 ANNUAL MORINGA
Evolved through pure line selection
Medium, dwarf stature
Pods are 60-70 cm long with 6.3 cm girth weighing 120g
Bears 220-250 fruit per tree
The estimated yield is 50-54 tonnes/ha
Suitable for ratoon crop
Low incidence of insect pest and disease
Suitable for varied soil types (freely drained) in tropical plains
CHARACTERISTICS OF PKM-2 ANNUAL MORINGA
This is a hybrid derivative developed by a cross between MP 31x MP 28.
Medium tall stature.
Can easily be propagated by seeds to cover extensive area within a limited time.
Pods are 125 cm long with 8.3 cm girth weighting 280g.
Less seeded, more fleshy.
Suitable for growing in tropical plains of India.
It can be grown as an intermediate crop in coconut and tropical fruit orchards at pre-fruit-bearing stage.
Suitable for home garden.
Average fruit numbers 240/tree with an estimated yield of 98 tonnes/ha.
Suthanthirapandian et al (1989) studied the extent of variability in the seedling populations of the annual moringa. Among the nine traits studied, number of flowers per inflorescence (19.0 126.0), fruit weight (25.0-231.5g) and yield by number of fruit per plant (1.0-155.0), it showed wide variability combined with greater, and observed variance, standard deviation and co-efficient of variations.
SEEDS AND SOWING
Moringa is propagated either by stem cuttings (limb cutting) or by seed. In perennial types, limb cuttings 100-150cm in length with a diameter of 14-16 cm are planted in situ during the rainy season. Elite trees are cut down, leaving a stump with a 90cm head from which 2 to 3 branches are allowed to grow. From these shoots, cuttings 100 cm long and 4 to 5 cm in diameter are selected and used as planting material (Seemanthini, 1964; Peter, 1978).
In the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu, shield budding has been found to be successful, and the budded trees begin to bear fruit in 6 months and continue to give good crops for about 13 years. September and December is found to be the best season for budding (Sundaraj et al, 1970).
Seeds do not show any dormancy periods and can be sown as soon as they are extracted. At the present time, annual moringa occupies about 70 per cent of the total area under moringa cultivation in southern India, propagated solely by seed. In Andhra Pradesh State (India) alone, over 90% of the total area under moringa cultivation involves seed-propagated annual types.
SEASON AND PLANTING
The limb cuttings are planted in pits of 60x60x60 cm at a spacing of 5x5 m, during the months of June to August. The monsoon rains during the period facilitate easy rooting and further growth. While planting, one-third of the cutting should be kept inside the pit. Under moderate clay situations,watering should be done just to optimum levels to avoid root rot.
The seeds of annual moringa may be directly dibbled in the pit to ensure accelerated and faster growth of the seedlings. The best suited season for sowing the seeds is September under Southern Indian conditions. The time of sowing has to be strictly adhered to because the flowering phase should not coincide with monsoon seasons, which results in heavy flower shedding. A plant spacing of 2.5 x 2.5 m between tows and seeds should be adopted , giving a plant population of 1600 plants/ha. Pits of 45x45x45 cm in size are dug out and then the seeds are sown in the centre of the pit. The seed germinates 10 to 12 days after sowing. The seed requirement per hectare is 625g. When planted in single rows along with irrigation channels, a spacing of 2m is sufficient.
Treatment of moringa seeds with Azospirillum cultures at the rate of 100 g per 625 g of seeds before sowing resulted in early germination, and increased seedling vigour, growth and yield .
Pinching the terminal bud on the central leader stem is necessary when it attains a height of 75cm(two months after sowing). This will promote the growth of many lateral branches and reduce the height of the tree. In addition, pinching reduces the damage due to heavy wind and makes harvesting much easier. Vijayakumar et al. (2000) found that early pinching of growing tips carried out 60 days after sowing is better than pinching 90 days after sowing for obtaining a higher yield.
Moringa trees are generally grown successfully without fertilizers. In Kerala (Southern India), ring trenches are dug about 10 cm from trees during the rainy season and filled with green leaves, manure and ash, and then covered with soil. This is said to promote higher fruit yields (Ramachandran et al., 1980).
If fertilisers are applied, the crop requires 44 : 16 : 30 g NPK/ tree at the time of pinching (75 days after sowing). Nitrogen @ 44g / tree must be applied as top dressing at first flowering (150-160 days after sowing) stage (Suthanrapandian et al., 1989).
Beaulah (2001) integrated nutrient management in annual moringa encompassing organic manures, bio-fertilizers and varying levels of N, P and K. The results obtained a positive response from moringa to the application of manures and fertilizers. Initial vigour was higher in treatment with poultry manure (500 g / pit) + Neem cake (250g/pit)+ panchakavya (2%) spray along with 150:150:100g NPK/tree. In ratoon crops, similarly, the same treatment resulted in early and vigorous growth confirming the superiority of integrated nutrient management in moringa.
Growing moringa plants may not require watering except during hot weather when they may be irrigated once a week. Annual moringa responds well to irrigation and the yield can be doubled (vegetable moringa fruit) by drip irrigation as compared to rain-fed crops. Rajakrishnamoorthy et al. (1994). Drip irrigation at the rate of 4 lit/day can enhance yields by 57 per cent as compared to rain-fed crop Rajakrishnamoorthy et al. (1994).
Vijayakumar (2000) found that spray application of GA3 @ 20 ppm on 90th day of sowing increased all the pod characters, such as length, specific gravity, number of seeds, flesh content and pulp, more than untreated check.
In annual moringa, when the harvest is in, the trees are cut down to a height of one metre above ground level for ratooning. These ratoon plants develop new shoots and start bearing four or five months after ratooning. Three ratooning operations are recommended during the production cycle (at month n° 9, 17 and 25), after each harvest is over. During each ratooning operation, the plants are supplied with the recommended level of N, P and K nutrients along with 20-35 kg of FYM.
Perennial types are also pollarded back to a height of 0.3-0.45m from ground level during October November, followed by manuring with organic matter (25kg) and the recommended input of fertilizers.
HARVEST AND YIELD
Perennial types raised by cuttings take nearly a year to bear fruit. The yield will generally be low (80-90fruit/year) in the first two years of fruit-bearing. This gradually increases to 500-600 fruit/tree/ year in the fourth and fifth years. The pods are harvested mainly between March and June. A second crop is normally harvested from September to October.
Annual moringa types are seasonal in terms of fruit- bearing and the crop sown during September comes to harvest within six months. Fruit of sufficient length and girth are harvested before they develop fibre. The harvest period extends for 2-3 months and each tree bears 250-400 fruit depending on the type.
INSECT PESTS AND DISEASES
Developing fruit are damaged by the fruit fly Gitona distigmata which can be effectively managed by adopting integrated pest management (IPM) measures. The package includes (i) Application of Fenthion 80 EC 0.04 per cent during the vegetative and flowering stage. (ii) Application of Nimbecidine 0.03 per cent at 150 ppm during 50 per cent fruit set and 35 days after (iii) soil application of Neem seed kernel extract (NSKE) @ 2 lit per tree at 50 per cent fruit set and (iv) weekly removal of affected fruit (Anjaneya et al., 1992 ; Ragumoorthi et al., 1998 ; Sivagami et al., 1965).
No major disease in India has been reported as affecting the economics of the crop. However, a new disease has developed in the Maharastra region. Pods reaching maturity showed extensive rot. The disease symptoms are observed all over the surface of the pods, more conspicuously at the stigmatic end. On green pods, elliptical or elongated sunken spots with reddish brown raised margins can be observed. Diseased pods are shrunken to thinner dimensions at their stigmatic ends, than healthy ones. In advanced stages of the disease development, the pods are rotten and dried up pre-maturely leaving uneven raised spots over them. The causal organism was identified as a fungus Drechslera haraiiensis. This disease appears to be newly recorded for moringa in the country.
SEED PRODUCTION, PROCESSING AND STORAGE
Harvesting of brown coloured moringa fruits at 20 days after anthesis led to recovery of good quality seeds with high germination potential from the proximal and middle portion of the fruit compared to the distal portion. Black followed by brown coloured seeds were superior with higher seedling quality attributes--i.e. germination and vigour index--than white seeds. Harvested pods must be dried for one or two days under shade with good ventilation. The seeds are extracted manually by opening the pods using gentle pressure on them. On opening, the seeds are separated freely. Small, shriveled and damaged seeds are removed.
Grading is carried out with the specific gravity separator. The fraction from 2 and 3 gives higher seedling emergence and vigour. Seed treatment with Azospirillum @ 100g /625g seeds is found to increase the seedling weight and vigour. The optimum temperature range is 20-25oC. For seed testing, sowing seeds at a depth of 1cm in a sandy medium with 80 per cent moisture-retaining capacity represents the ideal conditions.
Annual moringa seeds can be stored for up to 12 months, when freshly harvested seeds are dried to 8 % moisture content and treated with captan @ 2g/kg of seeds and packed in 700 gauge polythene bags (Palanisamy et al; 1995). The black and brown seeds treated with carbendazim 2g/kg of seeds and stored in 700 gauge polythene bags maintained more than 84% germination up to 12 months (Sivasubramanian et al., 1997).
CONDITIONS FOR SMALL AND LARGE SCALE MORINGA FARMING IN INDIA
The key factors governing profitability of large scale production are :
- Selection of high yielding varieties with suitable marketable quality.
- Sowing in a proper season, in compliance with the latest agro techniques.
- Pest control
- Management of ratoon crops
- Adoption of post harvest management.
- Analyzing the possibility for processing and exporting fresh young pods.
Constraints and limitations of large scale cultivation are :
- The crop is highly heterozygous because it is highly cross pollinated in nature and there is a wide variability in yield and components. As a result, the maintenance of genetic purity represents the limitation.
- The sowing period must be strictly adhered to, (During Aug Sep).
- The commercial crop requires irrigation during summer and windy seasons when the water table is always at its lowest. Extension as a commercial crop in water-scarce areas is limited.
- There is no proper control measure for fruit fly attacks (Gitonia).
- Packing systems are poor (uncovered bundles or in gunnies).
- Seasonal glut necessitates cold storage facilities.
The advantages of Moringa cultivation for small farmers are :
- Moringa requires minimum irrigation facilities.
- It does not require much labour and family members can deal with the variious operations as time requires.
- It calls for small amounts of manure and fertilizers.
- Because small farmers cultivate less than one hectare of Moringa they can transport their produce themselves to the local market.
- Pruned materials can be effectively recycled for supplying pulp and paper industries, which is an additional advantage for small farmers.
The problems they encounter are :
- Non availability of good quality annual moringa seeds.
- Use of unsuitable pruning methods for ratoon crop management.
- Management of fruit fly and leaf eating caterpillars.Lack of post-harvest management for maintaining sustainable prices for the product.
- Lack of co-operative marketing systems.
- Enriching germplasm collection and conservation
- There is ample scope for further crop improvement in moringa. Evolving a variety with cluster bearing habits (5-6fruits/cluster), low tree canopy and tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses, would definitely accommodate more plants per unit area and achieve maximum yields.
- Identifying ecotypes for industrial properties, such as higher percentage of Ben oil, medicinal uses, dyes etc.
- Evolving suitable fertilization/irrigation systems for efficient usages of water and nutrients
- Development of prototype machinery for harvesting and pruning.
- Identifying suitable post harvest method to improve the shelf life of fruit
- Development of value added moringa products for export
- Developing suitable storage methods and marketing outlets.
- Formation of a Task force committee with the elite progressive moringa growers and researchers to deal with marketing problems
- Developing suitable data bases for moringa crop improvement and management technology.
USES IN AYURVEDA
Fresh root is acrid and vescicant. The fresh root of the young tree is administered in cases of in intermittent fever. The root is applied externally as a poultice in cases of inflammation, as a valuable rubefacient in palsyand dropsy, and for bites from rabid animals.
An infusion of the roots is recommended for asthma, and is useful in ascites caused by diseases of the liver and spleen.
Root and root bark and stem bark are used as an abortifacient.
Freshly expressed juice from the root bark and the gum is mixed with sesamum oil and is dropped into the ears in cases of otalgia.
The paste of the root bark is used orally for urinary calculi
The bark and leaf induce sweating used in anorexia and external ulcers
The gum is used as an antiseptic. It is bland and mucilaginous.
Leaves are galactogogue, refrigerant, and laxative and improve digestion.
The tender leaves reduce phlegm and are administered internally for scurvy and catarrhal conditions.
Flowers, irritant in action, are used to heal inflammation of tendons and abscesses.
The unripe pods act as a preventive against intestinal worms.
The fruit is sweet and pungent in taste, an appetizer preventing eye disorders and increasing semen both qualitatively and quantitatively.
USES IN SIDDHA
The bark is used as an emmenagogue. Flowers, leaves and roots are used as an anthelmintic, in giddiness, nausea, pitta disease and tuberculosis.
USES IN UNANI
Laxative, antispasmodic; leaves used externally for laryngitis
The decoction of the root acts as a gargle, abortifacient, rubefacient, counter-irritant in rheumatic cases and in the enlargement of the liver in children (Chopra et al., 1938).
The fruit are used for curing articular pains, tetanus, nervous debility, paralysis, pustules, patches and leprosy (Chopra et al., 1938).