Moringa, the “Miracle Tree” is launched in Sierra Leone
By Mozart Adevu*
February 15, 2011—Imagine a tree in your backyard that meets all your nutritional needs, takes care of you medicinally, and purifies your water for you. This tree actually exists.
For centuries, the people of northern India and many parts of Africa have known of the many benefits of Moringa oleifera. Its uses are as unique as the name by which it is known: Califer, Horseradish, and Drumstick (a reference to its drumstick-shaped pods), for instance, and, in East and West Africa, “Mother’s Best Friend.”
Native only to the foothills of the Himalayas, Moringa is now widely cultivated in Africa, Central America, South America, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, and the Philippines. This tree is nutritional dynamite. Virtually every part of it can be used, and there are hundreds of uses for it.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has played a pioneering role in the promotion of Moringa as a food supplement source in Africa for a decade. Its Sustainable Agriculture and Development unit (UMCOR SA&D) supports widespread cultivation and production of the plant in Ghana and Liberia.
UMCOR SA&D officially introduced Moringa into Sierra Leone in 2001, when, as regional coordinator for West Africa, I brought high-quality Moringa seeds to the United Methodist Church-Sierra Leone and the Methodist Church-Sierra Leone.
UMCOR SA&D provided formal training in Moringa cultivation to 150 farmers. They then taught other farmers about the plant and its uses. We followed up the training for about three years.
Afterward, the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone (CCSL) coordinated the efforts in the country to promote the use of this great gift of God for Africa. The Presbyterian Church-USA and Agricultural Missions, Inc.-USA, in consultation with UMCOR, led the promotion.
These efforts culminated in the decision for a nationwide launch of the Moringa in Sierra Leone. Last October, a national conference was held in Freetown. It brought together interested and high-level participants from church and government, and was attended by the national press.
The event was held in the installations of CCSL and was chaired by United Methodist Bishop John Yambasu. I was pleased to represent UMCOR SA&D and offer the opening statement. Sierra Leone’s Minister of Health, Mohammed Daudis Koroma, was the keynote speaker.
Koroma expressed utmost support for CCSL and all involved in the promotion of the “miracle tree.” He praised UMCOR for “introducing such a wonderful plant into Sierra Leone” and promised the support of his office for any action plan to promote Moringa that might emanate from the launch event.
Bishop Yambasu similarly praised the efforts of UMCOR, CCSL, and all of the partners and farmers involved in the promotion of Moringa. He pledged his church’s commitment at all levels to this effort.
The bishop called on launch participants to emulate in Sierra Leone the plant’s success as a food supplement source in Ghana, where Moringa products are sold in supermarkets and health-food stores.
The launch was broadcast on the country’s nationwide network. It prompted several people to call CCSL to inquire about Moringa, Moringa products, and how they might procure plants or seeds.
As a follow-up to the event, I was invited to participate in an hour-long, nationally televised morning program to explain the nutritional and medicinal benefits of Moringa.
The Miracle Tree
Moringa leaves contain all of the amino acids that are essential to the human body, including two that are especially important for children. They also are the richest single natural source of vitamins and minerals on the face of the earth.
A family that has Moringa available for its use can virtually “grow multivitamins at their doorstep.” Why? Because Moringa contains vitamins A,B1, B2, B3, C, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, protein, and zinc!
Moringa contains some 46 antioxidants, which promote heart health and control the aging process. Moringa leaves and fruit are loaded with phytonutrients, which flush toxins from the body, purify the liver, bolster the immune system, help rebuild red blood cells, and rejuvenate the body at the cellular level.
At the launch, a highlight was the exhibition of Moringa products, including fresh leaves, flowers, and roots. I brought from Ghana more than 50 pounds of processed Moringa products, which were provided by the Moringa Association of Ghana. All of the products were purchased within a week of the event.
As it turned out, the launch not only created greater awareness of the nutritional and medicinal qualities of Moringa; it also opened up a market avenue for Moringa producers in Ghana—one more benefit of the “miracle tree” that is brining increased food security to West African communities.
*Mozart Adevu is UMCOR SA&D regional coordinator for West Africa and a Global Ministries missionary. This story was adapted from his January 2011 missionary newsletter.