ChildFund New Zealand has worked with communities in Emali, Kenya for over four years to successfully grow, harvest and sell the superfood Moringa, aka the “Miracle Tree”. Now, on the back of ChildFund supported business training, a local collective Emuka has taken Moringa to the next level by processing it into a range of market-ready products in Kenya.
Moringa is a drought-tolerant tree that grows even in poor soils and has leaves, bark, seeds and roots that are all either usable as a highly nutritious food or health and skin treatments. Communities in Emali, situated halfway between Nairobi and Mombasa in east Kenya, are vulnerable to drought which can destroy their crops and leave families without food and income.
“Moringa’s high nutritional benefits and its multiple food and health uses make it a perfect local resource that Emali communities can develop to help achieve their health and livelihood goals,” says ChildFund New Zealand’s Programme Director Quenelda Clegg.
"It has been amazing to watch the community of Emali not only embrace Moringa, but now we are seeing the community innovate and turn Moringa into a range of products, including a beautiful oil that can be used on skin as an aliment ointment or a moisturiser, and even better is that we are now seeing community members getting paid for their efforts.”
Growing Moringa is part of the Agriculture, Dairy and Economic Development (ADED) project that ChildFund delivers in Emali, with the help of Kiwi supporters and its local partner, the Emali Dedicated Children’s Agency (EDCA). Alongside other initiatives there, including a New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade supported dairy farming project, local farmers have been taught how to grow and harvest Moringa at demonstration plots and have been provided with Moringa seedlings to take home.
Moringa, the “Miracle Tree", has leaves that can be eaten like spinach, roots that are similar to horseradish, bark and leaves that can be dried and made into health supplements or ailment treatments. The seeds when crushed, not only make a lovely oil, but can also become a natural binder in water to help clump together, catch and remove fine substances such as bacteria, salt and other impurities, helping to prevent water-borne diseases.
Moringa superfood benefits include its high vitamin C and it also has vitamins A, B, D and E along with minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium and selenium. The leaves are rich in amino acid which are not commonly found in plants and it has three times the amount of iron found in spinach making it helpful in fighting anemia deficiencies and increasing energy levels.
Studies around Moringa superfood benefits also include protection for the liver, boosting immunity with cancer-fighting properties and improving bone, eye and kidney health.
“Emali is a drought-prone area, which causes huge challenges for these rural communities who rely on the land for food and income. Moringa crops therefore offer Emali families a way to nourish and provide for their children,” says Quenelda.
“Moringa’s range of food and health uses, its hardiness and its ability to produce incomes for local farmers make it ideal for the communities of Emali.”
Moringa seeds are sold in New Zealand along with a wide range of Moringa based products, including skincare and health supplements. While not widely grown here, Moringa will thrive in a variety of locations and soils, with hard frosts being the only thing it doesn't tolerate well.
ChildFund New Zealand works directly with and in communities, including Emali in Kenya, to help them provide the basics children need to thrive, with the aim that one day ChildFund can leave the community self-sufficient to do it themselves. Providing livelihood opportunities is one of the five focus areas for ChildFund, along with education; health and nutrition; water and sanitation and child protection. To learn more about ChildFund’s work go to www.childfund.org.nz