Moringa Cultivation Project
What could be more beneficial than getting a healthy diet on your plates direct from the farm?
Moringa plants serve as a nutrition factor for the consumers. Here we will see about the cultivation of the Moringa plant.
General Description for Moringa
Moringa is a drought resistant, softwood tree native to India from the family of Moringaceae, whose scientific name is ‘Moringa oleifera’, with common names being ‘Moringa’, ‘Drumstick tree’, ‘Horseradish tree’, and ‘ben oil tree’ or ‘benzolive tree’.
Do you know 8 ounce of milk contain only 300 to 400mg of calcium while in 1000mg of morringga leave may contain the same while in moringa powder it may reach up to 4000mg. It has been reported that moringa has more iron than spinach. It is good directory intake of zinc that can be essential for the proper grwth of sperm.
Moringa plants are cultivated for its seed pods, leaves and flowers which are rich in nutrients and it is often used as vegetables and for making traditional herbal medicines. The trees grow upto a height of 10 – 12 metres with the trunk diameter of about 35 – 45 centimeters having thick corky and fragile stems.
The flowering season is between January to August in South India and in the regions of central Kerala it starts from December to January, while the southern parts of it starts from February to March. The flowering varies from region to region and is affected by rain, soil and other climatic conditions, so in the areas of seasonal temperatures and consistent rainfall, flowering happens twice a year or even throughout the year.
The trees start bearing pods from the sixth month after plantation. The pods have a distinct flavour and its leaves are used for making South Indian cuisines. These pods are nutrient rich with Carotene, Vitamin C, Phosphorus and minerals such as Potassium, Chlorine and Magnesium.
Benefits of Moringa
Moringa plants are rich in nutrients and are used in curries, stews, casseroles, soups, salads, green smoothies, etc.
- 25% plant proteins with all 9 essential amino acids
- 24% fibre
- Iron, Vitamin K, Vitamin E, Vitamin A
- Calcium & Antioxidants
Some of its benefits are mentioned below:
- It reduces tiredness and fatigue
- It boosts the skin, fighting the signs of ageing
- It increase immunity
- It enhances muscles growth
- It acts as an anti stress
- It’s good for digestion
- It supports energy yielding metabolism
- It improves vision
- It reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes
- It maintains strong and healthy bones
Varieties of Moringa
Moringa varieties are divided into 2 categories:
- Perennial – These are less resistant to pests and diseases requiring greater rainfall and take a longer time for growing, thus not preferred for commercial cultivation.
- Annual – These are fast growing varieties which mature early producing higher yields and adapt to various soil and climatic conditions.
Based on the above two categories, Moringa plants have the following varieties:
- PKM 1
- PKM 2
- Chem Murungai
- Kudumiyanmalai 1 (KM – 1)
- Mulanur Moringa
- Valayapatti Moringa
The cultivation is based on various factors. Here we will discuss each of them.
- Climatic Requirement
The plants grow well in tropical and subtropical climatic conditions and the trees are often susceptible to frost as it is a heat loving tree and can not tolerate freezing or frost.
The flowers are shed when the temperature exceeds 40°C with the ideal temperature being 25° C to 35°C for proper growth of the plants. It can be grown in dry regions as well using rainwater without requiring any expensive irrigation technique.
- Soil Requirement
The plants are grown in every range of soil but a well drained sandy loam soil is preferred with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. Red soil is also recommended. The roots of the waterlogged soil have a tendency to rot.
- Land preparation
Moringa plants require a deep ploughing of the land before plantation and about 20 tonnes of farmyard manure is added to per hectare of the land. The pit of about 45×45×45 cm is dug, maintaining a space of 6×6 m for perennial crops and a space of 2.5×2.5 m for annual crops. Each pit is then followed by adding a mixture of 10 to 15 kg of farmyard manure with 100g of Nitrogen, 200g of Phosphorus and 50g of Potassium.
- Seed Treatment
The seeds are to be treated with biopesticides to control seed borne diseases before sowing. The seeds should be soaked in water overnight and then sown the next day for early germination and it is also treated with Azospirillum for better growth.
Moringa plants need very little irrigation for better growth. It can withstand drought conditions for upto six months but too dry or too wet soil conditions could lead to flower drop and so for maximum yielding of the crops it requires maintenance of optimum soil moisture avoiding the stagnation of water. Rainy season doesn’t require any irrigation. For better cultivation your can for drip irrigation project also.
- Manures & Fertilizers
After the plantation of crops, the pit requires to be applied with 100g of Urea, 100g of superphosphate, and 50g of muriate of potash. The flowering time requires 100g of urea pet plant and heavy irrigation during the pod development period.
- Intercultural Operations
Moringa plants require manual operations for the crops to grow well and produce more. The basic operations done in Moringa plants are:
- Weeding – Weeding is essential for loosening the top soil with a hoe so as to provide good aeration and could also remove the unwanted weeds or plants. It is recommended to weed four times a year and registered herbicides are applied for controlling the growth of weeds. Weeding is important for increasing crop yields.
- Pruning – Moringa plants grow vertically long and it produces less pods when it is grown naturally also making the harvesting difficult as it grows 10 to 12 metres long. Pruning cuts the branches short by pinching the terminal bud making the trees short to 1 to 2 metres. It helps in producing more branches which leads to more flowers and fruits, and it also makes the harvesting easier.
Pests & Diseases in Moringa plants
As such the moringa plants are not infected by any serious diseases in its native or introduced ranges but various insect pests and termites are seen in India causing minor damages.
Here we will see them:
- Budworms (Noorda Moringa) – It lays eggs on flower buds which makes the larvae enter the soil and transform into a cocoon, and thus increasing their population, destroying the flower and the pods.
- Collect the infected flowers and buds from the topsoil and destroy them completely.
- Spray 1 litre of Malathion per hectare of the field.
- Lead Caterpillar (Noordablitealis) – The adult insects lay a cluster of eggs destroying the foliage.
- Spray the field with 1g Carbaryl 50 WP mixed in 1l of water or 2ml of Malathion 50 EC in 1l of water.
- Kill the pupae after they are exposed by ploughing the soil around the tree.
- Collect the infected parts and destroy them.
- Arrange light traps in the field.
- Hairy Caterpillar (Eupterotemollifera) – The large sized moth lays eggs on shoots and leaves destroying the trees.
- Destroy the eggs and caterpillars.
- Arrange light traps in the field to attract the insects and kill them.
- Spray insecticides – FORS (25g) mixed in 1l of water or Carbaryl 50 WP (2g) in 1l water.
- Pod Fly – It is an insect that lays its eggs on pods which infect the pods and it falls down immaturely.
- Destroy the fallen and infected pods.
- Plough or rake the topsoil and destroy the pupae of the insect.
- Spray the dosage of Nimbecidine (3ml) mixed in 1l of water.
- Bark Caterpillar – These caterpillars bore holes on the bark of the tree and infect the place with webbed masses with chewed plant materials and caterpillars excreta.
- Clean the boreholes by removing the webbed materials.
- Dip a cotton wool in chloroform, or petrol, or formalin and insert them on the boreholes and cover it with mud.
Harvesting of Moringa plants
Moringa plants are cultivated for their leaves, pids and its kernels for extracting oil and purification of water.
- The leaves and shoots are harvested using a pair of shears or a knife when they are 100 to 150 cm in height.
- When the pods reach maturity, they are harvested immediately, but when they dry up and become brown in colour, the seeds are extracted from it. Matured pods split open themselves to let the seed fall off and these matured seeds are good for germination.
- Different varieties of the trees have different length of the pods and they are harvested according to their length. Tender and fleshy pods are harvested when they are immature. Mature pods are left fir seed harvesting.
Yielding in Moringa Cultivation
Moringa plants have different yields based on the variety of the crops planted and the farming methods used. The trees can be harvested twice a year and can yield up to 18 to 20 tonnes of pods per year under good cultivation and about 10 to 22 tonnes of fresh leaves per acre in a year.
Cost Economics of Moringa plants
The below economics is based on 1 acre of land and it is subjective to change depending on the region of cultivation, and it is just an approximation, not accurate.
|Total cost of production
|Seed cost of Moringa
|Fertilizers & Pesticides
|Irrigation & Harvesting cost
|Cost of production
|By the selling of fruit @ ₹15/kg
|Yield – Cost Ratio
|75000 – 30500 = 44500
Marketing of Moringa plants
Moringa plants are highly demanding due to its rich source of nutrition and medicinal values, both in local and global markets. The farmers can even sell their raw products to the agents or industries that prepare the final product. They can market it through social media and online marketing as well. The seed oil of Moringa plants are in constant demand in the local and international market.