Hyderabad: Plant nursery managers in Sindh have begun to understand the growing demand for the Moria (Oliveira) tree and its importance, as it has nutritional and medicinal value.
Nursery managers collect Moranga seeds from neighboring trees and also buy from local markets. Hundreds of plants are readily available in nurseries to meet the growing demand of local people.
“Recently, this tree has become very popular,” said Alisher Hazano, of the government’s Social Forestry Department, near Hyderabad’s famous Mayani Forest.
Each nursery on the highway grows 10,000 to 50,000 Moringa plants to participate in annual tree planting campaigns. Many people use mostly leaves and beans as organic food.
Pilgrims receive many people from different areas asking for two to five kilos of fresh leaves for the treatment of some diseases. He does not own the trees himself, and he gets them from neighboring villages.
Moranga leaves are dried by these people at room temperature, then use to cure some diseases. “I know a lot of traders in the neighboring villages who sell Moringa fresh and dried leaves, powder and roots, which they make at home and in the fields. They call themselves organic of fresh and dried leaves, beans and roots. Also eaten as a vegetable.
In the past, people preferred to plant neem and other types of fruit trees at home and in the workplace, but now they prefer Maranga trees because of its different uses.
Moringa tree plants are available in almost all private nurseries in terms of size and health at Rs. 20-80 each.
Numerous governmental and non-governmental organizations have taken steps to tackle malnutrition through the Community Nutrition Management (CMAM). However, very few long-term interventions have been noted that are linked to capacity building for local communities, particularly in the areas of agriculture, horticulture and employment practices.
After realizing the importance of Moringa in alleviating malnutrition, many organizations have taken various steps to promote this magical tree on a large scale, while using it as food and curing health problems. It has also provided knowledge and awareness.
A report by the Sindh Agriculture University (SAU) Tandojam shows that they had launched a project in Tharparkar district to address the problem of malnutrition. The university planted 5,000 Maranga trees with 500 families, believing in its nutritional value for both humans and livestock.
Residents of the Thar Desert suffer from chronic food insecurity due to poor infrastructure, poor socio-economic indicators and limited livelihood opportunities. The Moranga tree is considered to be the best alternative to provide essential nutrition to children under five years of age and to pregnant and lactating mothers.
The report says that 5,000 mature trees will be sufficient not only for societies’ own use, but also for their livestock. In addition, some parts of the tree can be used to treat various diseases.
Muhammad Siddique, a well-known member of the Rural Development Association (RDA) in Mithi, Tharparkar district, has claimed to have planted 5,600 Moringa trees in different parts of the desert. Some of the plants that were planted in 2017 are now mature and people have access to fresh leaves and pods to use as vegetables.
“It is a fast-growing tree and the desert area is suitable for planting,” he said. It’s also a great way to tackle nutrition on a sustainable basis, “he said.
There are more types of Moringa, but Oliveira is said to be more effective with medicinal properties. The tree is rich in nutrients that are needed by children under the age of five and by pregnant and lactating mothers.
Reports indicate that these groups are at higher risk of malnutrition in the desert. Maranga was one of the prominent trees of Tharparkar district decades ago, but it disappeared due to constant drought, drought and poor sanitation by the locals.
Along with the climatic conditions, the land of Thar is also suitable for planting Moringa trees. There is also scope to use its medicinal and nutritional properties to address chronic malnutrition in the region on a sustainable basis. The tree can also help livestock, an important source of livelihood for desert communities.
The number of both small and large animals in Tharparkar district is 6 million. Dairy products are the main source of nutritious food for desert communities. Shrinking natural resources are also affecting the number of livestock in the desert, which in turn affects the nutrition of children and women. Moringa can help change that.
The use of Moringa has increased, and this can be gauged from the fact that people now serve its dried leaves and snacks on dining tables with a variety of salads. However, there are no dedicated processing units to manufacture Moringa products. On a self-help basis, people are making powder, pickles and other products from Maranga.
Jamshed Memon, a field assistant in agriculture who supplies a large number of maranga plants, said many people are now saving a piece of land to grow the tree. “Once planted, it can live for more than 25 years. People can get its leaves twice a year for their use or to sell in the local market.
Memon said value addition is needed to promote the use of Moringa. People should be made aware of the importance of this tree in both rural and urban areas. “Some parts of the tree, including leaves, pods, seeds and roots are useful for treating various diseases like cancer, asthma and diabetes. It is used to protect the liver, relieve stomach complaints, fight bacterial diseases and strengthen bones It can also be used to improve health.