HOW TO CULTIVATE MORINGA OLEIFERA PLANTS. The Moringa oleifera plant is popularly known for its nutritional and medicinal uses which is why it is often regarded as the tree of life. Not only is its medicinal properties superior to many other trees, but its flowers, leaves, seeds, roots, barks, trunk, leaves and so on are also medicinal and in extremely high demand. Depending on how they are used, they help treat different ailments in the body.
The plant is a great source of vitamins B, C and A as well as riboflavin, nicotinic acid, folic acid, pyridoxine, calcium, beta carotene, iron and many other essential amino acids making it useful as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antibiotic, fungicide, and antimicrobial.
The moringa plant has also been known as a multipurpose tree because of its use not only in medicine but as food, spices, natural coagulants, and even as a fertilizer.
Now that you know all this, what benefit is there in cultivating moringa by yourself? Interestingly it takes very little investment to set up a farm of moringa plants compared to the profits you could make. For example, you can purchase a bag of moringa seeds for about N150,000 and a small jar for N2500, however during the off-seasons, moringa seeds can be purchased at a high price of N10,000 per kg. Take the oil or the extract as another example, on average it costs about N17,000 for 1 liter, meanwhile a 75ml bottle of the cold-pressed oil goes for N3500. There is an excess of demand for products obtained from the moringa plant but there are very little avenues for supply, so imagine how much profit you could make on only the oil or extract or the seeds of the moringa plant in a year, not to mention the other parts of the plant.
So how do you go about it?
Preparation and Planting
This is the most important part of the process if you want to grow healthy moringa plants. It is said to be a drought-tolerant plant but those seasons hardly occur in Nigeria. Regardless, you need to water your moringa plants regularly for them to grow well.
First things first though, the planting.
If your focus is to cultivate commercially then you can mechanically clear your land. Once that is done, you can then have the land harrowed and plowed. Then its time to plant the seeds.
Note that the seedlings of the moringa plant grow pretty fast if you plant them in loose, drained soil that has been filled with adequate quantities of manure or fertilizers, with the grown trees taking between 150 days to 1 year to produce seeds.
However, you need to first raise the seedlings in a nursery for about 1 month, and make sure the nursery is located under shade to prevent too much sunlight from reaching the seedlings. You can even establish the nursery in seed bags while you are having your land cleared, which makes the seedlings ready for transplantation by the time the preparation of the land is finished.
Ensure to have them irrigated regularly before you transplant them on the main farm.
The best time to transplant the seedlings is during the rain-filled months of June when there’s stable rainfall. Of course, if your farm is irrigated, you can transplant much earlier, just make sure it’s done either early in the morning or late in the evening to prevent stress and dehydration on the seedlings.HOW TO CULTIVATE MORINGA OLEIFERA PLANTS.
It is recommended that you space the seedlings about 2.5 meters apart on each row with each row also 2.5 meters apart such that there is maximum space for each tree and optimal yield for each tree would be guaranteed.
Grow them with care
One of the most important aspects of growing your moringa plant is managing weed infestation. This is because the weeds compete with your plants over the micronutrients that are required for them to grow healthily and produce seeds and fruits.
If you want to do it manually, you can weed with hoes and machetes. If you want to do it mechanically, you can weed with semi-mechanical cultivators, tractors or mowers, and if you want to do it chemically, you can use herbicides. Of course, there’s also the option of using biological techniques such as using sheep and goats to feed on the weeds but be careful using this particular technique as you run the risk of harming your moringa plants as well.HOW TO CULTIVATE MORINGA OLEIFERA PLANTS.
If you wish to improve the fertility of the soil, you can mix in compost manure from pig and poultry dung or make use of other sources of fertilizers, as this also helps to maximize your yield of moringa.
Harvesting your crops
The best time to harvest your moringa seeds is at the end of the year after the pods have turned brown. If you harvest them while they are still green, they are known as premature pods and tend to have white hollow seeds instead of the dark brown seeds. Harvesting the seeds prematurely is a waste of effort, time and resources as no one would buy them and they can’t be used. Fully matured moringa pods are always brown in color with dark brown kernels and fully formed seeds. HOW TO CULTIVATE MORINGA OLEIFERA PLANTS.
Once the pods have been harvested, you then remove the seeds from the pods and have them spread under the sun. This is done for about 5 hours to ensure that all the moisture has been removed, after which the seeds are divided into grades, then bagged and stored in a cool dry place.
Once that is done, your seeds are ready for sale.
If you happen to be from a low-income family, it is advised that you grow between 5 and 10 trees in your backyard. Not only does farming the plant keep some additional income coming in regularly, but the business of aggregating the seeds is also just as enriching.
A major benefit of cultivating moringa plants is the fact that it requires little capital to start up and isn’t stressful to maintain.