Dr Oscar K. Koech from University of Nairobi, Department of Land Resource Management and Agricultural Technology (LARMAT) believes there’s reason for the oil retailing at such exorbitant price from Moringa tree. “Maybe they are following some of the benefits of the ingredients in terms of diet or the components of health that is in the oil,” he says. One litre of oil extracted from moringa seeds costs Sh 8,000 at Emuka Moringa Farmers’ Cooperative Society Shop, located in Emali town, Makueni County. While the oil, which is used either for cooking or cosmetics seems costly, Veronicah Mwikali, the shop attendant reveals, in fact, the current price is on promotion basis. That, soon, they will adjust to retails at normal price of Sh 12,000 like other places.
Moringa leaf powder is second best-selling product, due to its medicinal value. It is used in beverages like tea, hot water, vegetables and other foodstuffs. Other value added products are moringa facial scrub, moringa pellets, moringa fortified flours, moringa seeds and moringa animal and chicken feeds, all with equally huge market across the country.
Visit to Moringa farmer(s)
Farmers drawn from Emali and Mulala are laughing all the way to the bank, enjoying the fruits of moringa value chain project, implemented in Kajiado and Makueni Counties through funding from New Zealand government, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, ChildFund New Zealand, ChildFund Kenya and Barnfonden. The Smart Harvest visited and found Joseph Nyambuya, one of moringa farmers plucking the leaves that he delivers to a processing factory in Mwanyani.
In an eighth acre farm, save for tens of tall moringa trees with creamy-white flowers swaying from one side to the other, the land is bare and dry. “It has not rained for months. The last time we saw rain was in November last year,” recounts Nyambuya from Kiliku area of Kibwezi West, Makueni County. He regrets, farmers who planted after the rains have since lost all their crop. Since 2018 when first planted moringa, Nyambuya shares the crop has remained intact, even in extreme dry conditions.
He says everything on moringa including leaves, flowers, roots, the young pods and the seeds has benefits. On average, he pockets Sh 5000 every month, and he’s plans to expand his farm to an acre. Fresh leaves, 1kg costs Sh 22, while powder leaves 1kg is Sh 1000. The seeds 1kg is 150 while 1kg of oil from seeds is Sh 8000.
Phineas Gikunda, Project Manager ChildFund Kenya says moringa value chain interventions range from production, processing or value-addition to marketing through farmer cooperative-Emuka Moringa Farmers’ Cooperative Society. He explains, they promote moringa farming because of its economic, social or nutritional and ecological benefits.
Moringa as animal feed supplement
Apart from foods, Dr Koech says moringa is ideal for making animal feeds. It is a good source of proteins, Vitamins, has antioxidant properties.
He says, it can easily replace 100 percent soya in animal feeds. “You can use moringa and ease pressure on soya which is used as human food,” he explains.
On intercropping, Dr Koech says, “Moringa is a leguminous tree and any leguminous tree does nitrogen fixation in the soil so, definitely the soils are going to have higher nitrogen content.”
Looking at productivity, it is projected that after five years moringa tree becomes less productive, and farmers are advised to do a new crop.
Gikunda is encouraging farmers to do moringa on a larger scale, says at least 100 trees so as to enjoy economies of scale.