Moringa – Superfood for the Desert

Short description

Due to its diverse properties the Moringa tree can be described as a “miracle tree”. Originally native to India, the plant can also be cultivated in Africa. The tree can grow up to 8 meters within the first year, bears fruits and endures droughts. The leaves can be consumed fresh as well as dried and are very rich in vitamins and minerals. In addition to the B vitamins and calcium, they also contain a lot of iron and provitamin A. Young, immature fruits can be prepared like green beans.

The seeds can also be used for water purification. Small amounts of powdered seeds can bind heavy metals and remove them from the water. In addition, the seeds can be processed into oil.

Moringa can also improve and cure illness-symptoms. What traditional ayurvedic medicine knows for a long time has now also been demonstrated through in-vitro experiments: Moringa has an antibacterial effect and can accelerate the healing of the skin. Furthermore, Moringa can be used as animal feed.

Which problem do we aim to solve and why?

Our main target group are pregnant women and children in order to guarantee a healthy and good development of the children. In addition, we want to minimize the malnutrition of the entire population.

Iron deficiency is particularly important since an adequate supply of iron is also essential for the utilization of other micronutrients, especially iodine and vitamin A. Moringa is a good source of iron, as large parts of the population are too poor to consume meat.

By disinfecting water, diarrhea and respiratory diseases can be combated as there are indications that proteins from the Moringa powder have an antibacterial effect. The precipitation of heavy metals from the water prevents long-term damage and further cognitive restrictions.

The leave remnants can be used as animal feed. Thereby milk production in cattle could also be increased.

In other Asian countries, Moringa is traditionally used as a medicinal plant for thousands of years, because of the wide range of possible applications. Latest studies confirm the positive effects for the healing of skin wounds and show an antibacterial effect. In-vitro experiments showed that Moringa counteracts infections against typical bacterial pathogens (Staphylococcus epidermis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and E. coli).

Our solution

Our approach is to cultivate the plant and, above all, to establish it in the northern region of the Ivory Coast, because there the climatic conditions are less favorable than in the cities of the south.

The various possibilities of use should be explained to the population, which could be done by picture panels, since a large part of the population cannot read. Another advantage of the illustrated panels is that children are also interested in participating in the project. Explanations could be given at seminars in primary schools and in the villages.

Medicine men and hospital staff are also to be instructed in order to bring the benefits at all levels closer together and help especially with mothers and sick people.

The focus of the project will be on educating the population about the plant and involving them directly into the project. The individual villages and families should learn how to plant and process the plant itself. It is important to explain all necessary steps of cultivation and processing in order to ensure optimal use of the plant.

In the long term, the population will use the Moringa plant in their everyday life and thus become independent of our project and Western influences.

Why is our idea innovative, new and different?

Moringa oleifera can be cultivated in arid and hot regions, which is of particular importance for the north of the country. In addition, the plant grows very fast and is relatively unpretentious. All parts of the Moringa tree can be used and several problems can be solved at the same time. Furthermore, it is very cost-effective, since people can reproduce and grow plants in the long term.

How is our idea feasible?

The seeds are to be distributed to the families and villages. Firstly, products made from Moringa should be shown, their application possibilities explained, and then integrated into local dishes. On the basis of the picture panels, they can cultivate it themselves in the long term and thereby obtaining responsibility.

Which technologies, channels or methods are we planning to use?

The radio is one of the main sources of information in Côte d’Ivoire. We will call on local radio stations to inform about the project, in order to provide a theoretical basis for the Moringa. This is essential so that people can learn about the advantages and varied application possibilities and can also test it for themselves. Since scarcely half of the country can read or write, we want to develop illustrated information pannels that educate people about the cultivation and use of the Moringa plant.

What outcome and what improvements do we expect? How do we measure these?

To improve the supply of micronutrients, we want to focus on the population’s experience reports. We would like to exchange information with the local people on the implementation of the project and the general well-being of the people.

Our budget planning & acquisition of potential partners

As partners, we would need people who have already been involved in projects with Moringa to share their experiences with us in order to give us tips and support in certain areas (such as cultivation and processing). In addition, we would use the help of a person who is generally familiar with developing countries, as we consider it important to have an insight into their experiences because we as students have not had any experience with such countries.

The available budget of € 10,000 would be used for flights, seeds of the tree, containers for the preservation of the Moringa plants and the planting of pre-cultures of the tree. Since we have basic knowledge in French, we would also take language courses, since it is a great advantage to communicate with the people directly. In addition, it would be helpful to have a translator to ensure smooth communication in the event of language difficulties.

Moringa - Superfood for the Desert

Team:   Helene Schibel, Lisa Gottzmann, Pia Latus, Lukas Köhler, Max Rentsch

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