Moringa farming started in India, it was used in the preparation of food before researchers discovered it to be medically potent. The knowledge of it in the last one decade has tremendously increased globally and the demand for it is growing daily. Moringa is very easy to plant and maintain. It has been turning farmers into millionaires yearly. There is a very huge market for it both locally and internationally. Moringa plant was found to be a better biofuel than Jetropha plant. That is why USA seems to be the highest consumers. This is a plant that is cultivated in tropical Africa, (Nigeria inclusive), Malawi, Madagascar, Philippine, etc. There was a submission in a summit that Nigeria is capable of generating 500 hundred billion Naira in Moringa farming alone within a year. And that it can provide thousands of jobs to the youths. Malawi as a country is using moringa for water purification and has turned their attention to this area by increasing the output in moringa farming. Moringa is also called drumstics or tree of life. Everything about the tree is useful; the leaves, roots, bark, branches, seeds, flowers, fruits etc. It is said to cure any sickness you can think of.
Moringa farming is best done in a sandy-loam soil. A 0well-drained soil rich in organic matters. Acidic PH of 6.0 -7.0 is good for a healthy growth. Although they still grow on poor soil it will be better to use a fertile land for their commercial cultivation. Use plough and harrow to till and prepare the soil for a large expanse of land; dress the soil with manure were necessary.
You can plant directly to the main field or through nursery. How to raise moringa nursery: Fill the nursery bags with sand, drop 2 – 3 seeds in each, 1cm – 2cm deep. The soil should be moist don’t allow water to log. After 5 – 10 days the seeds will germinate, thin them to one each in a nursery bag. When they reach a height of 70cm – 80cm high. Dig a hole of 30 – 50cm deep, 40 – 50 wide. Cut the bottom of the nursery bag and place the seedling with the sand as it is into the hole Be careful not to damage the roots.
THESE ARE THE STEPS TO TAKE TO HASTEN GERMINATION OF MORINGA SEEDS
Soak the seeds in water 12 – 24 hours before planting Crack the shell before planting Remove the shells and plant only the kernel. To plant moringa directly, plant seeds when the rains are just starting between March-April. Dig the soil 20-50cm and mix the top soil with manure, fill the sand back Create a hole of 2cm and drop 2 seeds of moringa, plant the seeds 3m x 3m in rows.To allow adequate sunlight and air movement in the farm. The cultivation should be carried out in an East-West direction. In case of intercrossing allow a spacing of 10m. If you are planting for the leaves only then use 20 x 20cm Another way to plant moringa is through grafting . Cut the parent plant (it should be the hard part) about 50 -100cm long with a diameter of 10cm thickness. Plant them directly in sacks if nursery. Use a light sandy soil, put 1/3 of its length into the soil and water lightly. The roots of a moringa tree planted in the nursery are slow in development.
After adding manure 2 weeks before planting you apply 50kg of N:P:K each per hectare after 6 months. Use phosphorus to encourage root development.
Moringa plant will grow without enough water as a matter of fact, the plant does not need much water. However in other to induce flowering or fruiting apply water every two weeks. Don’t water them during raining season but once in a week during dry season. Use drip irrigation for moringa farming. Stop watering them after 2 months of planting or transplanting.
Prune moringa trees after a year or when they are 3 feet tall. Leave about 4 – 5 branches on each plant. Pruning will increase branching, enhance production and allow thorough harvest.
PEST/DISEASES IN MORINGA FARMING
Fruit flies, stem borers attack moringa plants. Others are; caterpillar it can eat up the leaves, aphids, budworms causes defoliation. Use insecticides or neem oil to control them. Animals such as cow, goat, sheep eat up moringa seedlings a lot. Plant parameter fencing. Use jetropha trees to prevent animals from entering moringa farm. Root rot that can be caused by excess water in the soil can be controlled by creating pathway for water to drain out during the rains or after irrigation.
Harvest is done manually by the use of sickles, knives or any sharp objects. Remove the seeds when the pods are dried, don’t let them split open before harvesting. If the pods are harvested when they are still green or before maturing they will decay. You can do that only if you want to use them for cooking or salad preparation. For leaves harvesting cut off some of the branches and pluck off the leaves and dry. Harvest for grafted moringa plants is between 6-8 months after planting. It can also be done after a year. The first harvest will be low but yield increases every passing year. Moringa seeds can be stored in a cold dry place. Dry the leaves in an open place where they are not exposed to sun This is to preserve their properties. Moringa plant yield most in dry conditions and good/timely irrigation. Things that will affect yields are; variety, fertilizer application, water application and season.
YIELD IN MORINGA FARMING
One tree can yield about 500-1000+ pods and can fruit twice a year March-April and in July September. Leaves of 5 tons can be harvested in a hectare within a year. Yield is less in dry season than in raining season for about half. Harvesting of leaves and stem can be done after 2-3 months of planting. Leaves can be harvested every 2 weeks. Cut down the trees by 60cm. 30 tons of seeds can be gotten in a hectare for a year. A pod contains about 8 seeds.
Buyers of moringa seeds are many and are already waiting to buy. You can supply them directly to buyers outside the country. There are many exporting companies you can supply to mostly based in Lagos. Place an advert online and see people rushing for it. Locate traditional medicine dealers and sell the leaves to them. Seeds attract more buyers than leaves. Grind the leaves to powder, package and distribute them to hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, markets etc. Supply the raw materials to Pharmacautical companies, Cosmetics Company and other companies that make use of them.
WHY YOU SHOULD GO INTO MORINGA FARMING
It is very easy to cultivate and doesn’t require strenuous maintenance. Their seeds can stay more than one and half years without loosing its oil and medicinal properties. Harvesting can be done twice in a year due to their flowering nature Moringa seeds are hotcakes, they are more in demand than the leaves It is a long time earning just like cashew and cocoa.
Moringa oil is more preferable than jetropha oil. All parts of the plant is economically viable It is very profitable and the earning is mostly in dollars because it attracts direct foreiqn buyers.
USES OF MORINGA
MORINGA AS A LEGUMINOUS PLANT
Moringa is very friendly that is why you can intercrop or mixed other crops with it. It is a leguminous plant that add nutrients to the soil. Thereby enriching the soil for any other crop to thrive.
You can plant any crop with moringa it will do well. This is why moringa farming is uniquely different from other cash crops.
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