At our nutrition demonstration farm we have a 500m2 area dedicated to the growing of Moringa oleifera. This is a wonderful plant which when grown to full maturity can be 6 metres tall. Each part of the Moringa tree has many uses; however we are interested in the nutritional value of leaves and so grow our trees in a coppice. This means that when trees reach approximately 1 metre tall they are cut to 15-20cm. The tree will then grow a new stem and continue to produce more nutritious leaves for a future harvest. Harvested leaves are dried and then powdered. The harvest will reduce to about a third of its fresh weight at harvest, however only a small amount of powder is needed to provide substantial amounts of nutrients.
Just 100 grams of fresh Moringa leaves will provide a child aged 1-3 with all their daily requirements for calcium, about 75% of iron and 50% of protein needs, as well as important supplies of potassium, B vitamins, copper and all the essential amino acids. For a pregnant or breast-feeding woman, 10 grams of fresh Moringa leaves can supply over a third of her daily calcium requirements as well as provide necessary quantities of iron, protein, copper, sulfur and B vitamins.
Powder can be added to soups, stews, ugali and uji to boost the nutritional value of foods which can often have low-levels of micronutrients. It can also be mixed with hot water and honey, and drank as a green tea. Fresh leaves can also be added to soups and stews, or steamed and served as a vegetable portion just like spinach or sukuma wiki as part of a nutritional balanced meal.
Real Impact sold its first Moringa leaf harvest as a powder to Macheo Children’s Home, Thika, which used it in its daily serving of morning uji to some of the youngest children.