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MORINGA OLEIFERA

Moringaceae is a single-genus family with 14 known species thus far, which are indigenous to Africa, Madagascar, Arabia, and India. Half of them are relatively common and already sporadically cultivated, yet only Moringa oleifeira (horseradish or drum stick tree) because of its many uses is planted in the whole tropical belt. Moringa oleifera is a native to sub-Himalayan tracts of northern India. But it is now grown worldwide in the tropics and sub tropics. It is a small, fast-growing, drought deciduous tree that ranges in height from 5-12 m with an open umbrella shaped crown, straight trunk (10-30cm thick) with corky whitish bark. The evergreen foliage (depending on climate) has leaflets 1-2 cm in diameter; the flowers are white or cream colored. The fruits (pods) are initially light green, slim, tender, eventually becoming dark green, firm and up to 120 cm long. Minimum annual rainfall requirements are estimated at 250mm with maximum at over 3000mm. presence of a long Taproot makes it resistance to periods of drought. Its temperature range is 25-35 C, but the tree will tolerate up to 48oC in the shade and can survive a light frost. A freeze can kill the tree to the ground but it will afterwards send out new shoots.

Moringa tree prefers well-drained sandy or loam soil. It will tolerate a clay soil but not water logging. It can tolerate PH 5-9, and can grow in alkaline conditions of up to PH 9.It can be grown easily from seeds or cutting. Seeds should be planted 2cm or 1in. deep and should germinate with in 1-2 weeks.  Among ways it is used: Alley cropping, animal forage, domestic cleaning agent, dye, fertilizer, gum, honey clarifier, live fencing, medicine (traditional), ornamental, plant disease prevention, pulp, rope-making, tanning.

Nutritional value

Leaves and pods of Moringa Oliefera can be extremely valuable source of nutrition for people of all ages. Analysis made per 100g of edible portions of moringa pods, fresh (raw) leaves and dried leaf powder, showed to contain many of the vitamins, minerals and amino acids that are very important for a healthy diet. Moringa leaves are outstanding as a source of vitamin A and, when raw, vitamin C. They are good source of B vitamins and among the best plant sources of minerals. The calcium content is very high for a plant. Phosphorus is low, as it should be. The content of iron is very good. They are an excellent source of fat and carbohydrates. Thus the leaves are one of the best plant foods that can be found. For a child aged 1-3, a 100g serving of freshly cooked leaves would provide all the daily requirements of calcium, about 75% of iron and half of the protein needed, as well as important amounts of potassium, B vitamins, copper and all the essential amino acids. As little as 20g of leaves would provide all the vitamin A & C needed.

If one rounded table spoon of powder is added to an infant’s meal three times per day, the 25g of leaf powder will give him roughly the following terms of RDA (Recommendations for Daily Allowance); Protein: 42%, Calcium: 84%, Magnesium: 61%, Iron: 71%, Vitamin A: 271%, Vitamin C: 22%.For pregnant and breast-feeding women, moringa leaves and pods can do much to preserve the mother’s health and pass on strength to the fetus or nursing child. One 100g portion of leaves could provide a woman with over a third of her daily need of calcium and give her important quantities of iron, protein, copper, sulfur and B vitamins. During the risky times of suffering from nutritional deficiencies of pregnant and breast feeding mother, if they consume six rounded table spoon of leaf powder per day, they can roughly receive the following terms of RDA; Protein: 21%, Calcium: 84%, Magnesium: 54%, Potassium: 22%, Iron: 94%, Vitamin A: 143%, Vitamin C: 90%.

Animal Feed

The high protein content of moringa leaves must be balanced with other energy food. Cattle feed consists of 40-50% moringa leaves should be mixed with molasses, sugar cane, young elephant, sweet (young) sorghum plants; or whatever else is available. Care must be taken to avoid excessive protein in take.

Water Treatment

Water born diseases are one of the main problems in developing countries; about 1.6 million people are compelled to use contaminated water. However in many communities of these countries water clarification methods like flocculation, coagulation and sedimentation are often inappropriate because of the high cost and low availability of chemical coagulants. The use of natural materials of plant origin to clarify turbid water is not a new idea. Among all the plant materials that have been tested over the years, the seeds from Moringa oleifeira have been shown to be one of the most effective as a primary coagulant for water treatment and can be compared to those as of ALUM (conventional chemical coagulant). Generally, coagulants are used for (physical and chemical) purification of turbid raw waters. At very high turbidity using filters can no longer adequately treat the water. Coagulants have to be applied to transform water constituents into forms that can be separated out physically. In large-scale treatment plants Aluminum Sulphate is used as a conventional chemical coagulant.

As an alternative to conventional coagulants, Moringa oleifera seeds can be used as a natural coagulant (primary coagulant) in household water treatment as well as in the community water treatment systems. Natural coagulant properties were found in 6 different Moringa species by laboratory studies. The seed kernels of Moringa oleifera contain significant quantities of low molecular weight, (water-soluble proteins) which carry a positive charge. When the crushed seeds are added to raw water, the proteins produce positive charges acting like magnets and attracting the predominantly negatively charged particles (such as clay, silk, bacteria, and other toxic particles in water).

The fl occultation process occurs when the proteins bind the negatives charges forming flocs through the aggregation of particles, which are present in water. These flocs are easy to remove by settling or filtration. The material can clarify not only highly turbid muddy water but also water of medium and low turbidity. The level of turbidity influences the required time for the flocculation. As with all coagulants, the effectiveness of the seeds may vary from one raw water to another. The practical application of dosing solutions is exactly the same as for all other coagulants. Studies have been carried out to determine the potential risks associated with the use of Moringa seeds in water treatment. To date, no evidence has found that the seeds cause secondary effects in humans, especially at the low doses required for water treatment (done up to the year 2000).

The powder from crushed moringa seed kernel works as a natural Coagulant (a substance that causes a fluid to change to a solid or semi-solid state) binding to the solids in water causing them to sink to the bottom, since bacteria in water is generally attached to solid particles. Treatment with moringa powder can leave water clear with 90-99% of the bacteria removed. Moringa has an active ingredient called POLYELECTROLYTE; 100kg of moringa kernel will produce about 1kg of almost pure polyelectolyte.

Seeds needed for water treatment must be harvested during the dry season. Because the level of polyelectrolyte in the seeds harvested in the wet season is substantially low. The amount of seed required will vary depending on the raw water source and on the raw water quality. The advantage of seed use is that, there is a wide dose ranges over which effective treatment may be achieved and maintained. The table below gives a rough guide to determine the dose requirement. Dosages are given as equivalent weight of seed powder or press cake material required making up the dosing solution.

Use the powder from one moringa kernel per every two litters of some what turbid water, and one kernel per litter of very turbid water. Application of plant flocculants such as Moringa Oleifera is highly recommended for domestic water purification in developing countries, where people are used to drink contaminated turbid water. Moringa does not guarantee that the raw water ends up completely (100%) free of pathogenic germs. It is cleaned and drinkable but not completely purifi ed. Since it reduces the number of suspended particles drastically (fl occulates) it also reduces the quantity of microorganisms in raw water automatically. Consequently, this method might reduce waterborne diseases in those countries considerably. Moringa oleifera trees can be cultivated very cheaply at the household level or in small communal nurseries, which is to be encouraged among the rural population.

The harvest of a mature single tree (3 kg) will treat about 30,000 liters of water. To guarantee coagulant supplies of high quality, along with speedy fruit production, big seed size, and rich yields, cultivation all over the tropical belt should be coordinated by global exchange of seed materials from the most suitable clones, special breeding efforts and subsequent local application of vegetative propagation and grafting. Apart from water purification, moringa seed extracts have the ability to control algae clogging irrigation pipes and emitters. It’s ability to inhibit iron bacteria and can effectively control corrosion of pipes. MedicinalA compound found in the flowers and roots of the Moringa tree, Petrygospermin, has powerful antibiotic and fungicidal effects. Roots; are acrid, digestive, antihelmentic, constipating, anodyne, bitter alexipharmic, stimulant and vacant. They are useful in paralysis, inflammations, fever, cough, cold, bronchitis, pectorial disease, epilepsy, and hysteria. Leaves; are useful in scurvy, vitiated conditions of kapha and vata. Seed; are acrid, bitter, anti-inflammatory, purgative, and are useful in neuralgia, inflammations and intermittent fever. Some other uses; Pods The young pods, also known as “drum sticks” are cooked and have a taste like asparagus. They are eaten much like green beans.

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