Native to northern India, the drought-tolerant moringa tree is now grown throughout Asia, South America and Africa. As a crop, the moringa tree’s durability and rapid growth (up to 10 feet each year!) make it ideal for low-income, rural communities.
Often called “the miracle tree,” the moringa is more than your average tree. The wood is soft and doesn’t make the best building material but its regenerative bark is perfect for wood-burning stoves. Moringa oil, in addition to being a substitute for vegetable oil, is used in soaps, lamps and as mechanical lubrication for farm and food production equipment. But the moringa’s greatest use is nutritional.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, just 25 grams of moringa leaf powder supplies a person with their entire day’s calcium and vitamin A needs, half the day’s protein and potassium needs and about three-quarters of the day’s iron needs. Eaten as a vegetable course during meals, moringa leaves improve childhood nutrition, birth weights and the quality of breast-milk.
The Hunger Project-Benin has had success with a program called Moringa ++ that promotes the cultivation of moringa trees in epicenter communities as sources of income, environmental sustainability and child nutrition.
Youth groups at Kissamey and Dekpo Epicenters mobilized to plant thousands of moringa, as well as apple, cashew and oil palm trees, which contribute to the overall food security of each community. Additional groups grind and package powdered moringa leaves to be sold and generate income. Combined with other epicenter workshops, this sturdy tree and Moringa ++ are empowering communities to achieve sustainable self-reliance in the areas of health, income, food security and education.
In Ethiopia, in the Mesqan region in the country’s highlands, The Hunger Project strongly promotes the planting of the Moringa Tree. In the lowlands of Ethiopia, Moringa is a native plant and part of the daily diet. In the highlands, however, it’s much less common. So The Hunger Project handed out 3,500 Moringa tree seedlings in 2015 at Mesqan Epicentre. Most of these were planted in the common Moringa plantation.