Moringa oleifera is a plant that is often called the drumstick tree, the miracle tree, the ben oil tree, or the horseradish tree. Moringa leaves, stems, root, and seeds have been used for centuries due to its medicinal properties and health benefits. Scientific studies have shown that it contains anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti- depressant, and anti-inflammatory properties, and also health promoting ingredients that offer palliatives to malnutrition, hunger and diseases. The early leaves are edible and commonly cooked and eaten like spinach or used to make soups and salads. It is also rich in Vitamin A, several forms of Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Vitamin E.
Nigeria is a large agrarian economy with agriculture accounting for up to 50 per cent of employment, in spite of its huge earnings from oil proceeds. Besides, cocoa, cashew, palm oil, rice, cassava and soya bean, another major cash crop that has huge potentials to boost the economy, farmer’s income, and create more jobs in Nigeria is moringa. Regrettably, its full potential is yet to be harnessed in the country’s agricultural economy. The demand for moringa is very high in countries like USA, China and other European countries, on this note farmers who use their agricultural expertise to meet their financial needs, now also have the opportunity to make great profit from moringa farming. It has even been noted that the Chinese, Indians, Veitnamese and South Korea companies are all over Lagos looking for Moringa seeds, as a bag of moringa seed costs N150,000 to N170,000 depending on the weights. Also, in Kano state, the Chinese usually pay moringa farmers further in advance of the harvesting period which shows its in depth value, so much to say that in Zamfara state alone, a trader in moringa seeds rakes in N6 million every year from the seed which has more monetary value than the leaves, with a kilo sold for N1,800 to N2,000.
Moringa is also known to be a cheap seedling with high returns on investment and grows in every part of the country, however, farmers are yet to fully appreciate its mass benefits. It can be harvested at least three times more during the raining season, depending on the size of the farm. A small size of land can contain many stems that can grow and produce the seeds within a short period which can be exported, after being processed for consumption and value addition.
Non-profit and international development agencies have spent millions of dollars to encourage people across the African continent to grow and use moringa. It is also being utilized by pharmaceutical companies, cosmetic and food industries and so many others manufacturing industries. According to Ojiefoh Enahoro Martins, the Deputy Managing Director of Peniel Gera International Limited, a seed company, Moringa is one of the world’s most useful plants and fast-growing tree which is grown throughout the tropics for human food, livestock forage, medicine, dye, and water purification.