Friday, 8 June 2012

Plant ' Moringa oleifera' the amazing agroforestry vegetable tree in kenya

Moringa oleifera also known as drumstick is grown in Kenya mainly for the local and export market. The trees are propagated by seeds as well as vegetatively through cuttings. The demand for these trees is increasing due to superior nutritional/ medicinal value and adaptability to harsh climates. The young pods contain protein, calcium, iron and vitamin C. Moringa oleifera leaves contain high amounts of Calcium, iron, vitamin A and C. Young leaves and the tender pods are prepared by cooking or pickling and eaten as vegetables. Young seeds are used as peas while mature seeds are eaten roasted like nuts. The pod is ground into powder natural water purifier.

These trees require warm to hot climates with temperature of 25-35ºC and well drained soils. Moringa oleifera resists drought for several months after establishment and is well adapted to low altitudes up to 100M. The root sprouts from the trees stumps are also used as propagation materials. Cuttings of about 1 metre are sown in previously prepared holes measuring 1× 1×1M at the onset of the rains. Cow dung paste is applied on top of the cuttings to prevent drying. Seeds for planting can be collected from well developed pods. The seeds are soaked in cow dung water mixture for one day to stimulate germination process and sown in a nursery bed 10cm apart.

Regular watering is vital for growth. At 4-6 months when seedlings are 30cm high they are transplanted in previously prepared holes as above. Manures and fertilizers are applied and mixed with the soil at sowing time.15-20kg farm yard manure, 4kg ash, 1kg bone meal or tsp per hole is mixed with the top soil before planting.3 months after transplanting moringa oleifera is cut back to 15cm to induce lateral branching. In the first year the flowers are removed from the trees to enhance production of more flowers. Produce harvesting starts about 8 months after transplanting seedlings. Moringa oleifera should be harvested into clean well aerated containers such as plastic crates. Moringa oleifera trees products are then sorted graded and packed for the market.