|dc.description||Moringa ? the miracle tree
Every day, an estimated twenty five thousand people in developing countries die from water borne diseases. In water treatment plants, the most common purifying chemical used is aluminium salt. This often needs to be imported, making it quite expensive. There could soon be a home-grown solution, however. The Asian moringa tree, originally from India but now found in much of Africa, has seeds which contain a natural coagulant. This can bind impurities, cleaning water and making it safe to drink. Moringa also has many other useful properties. It contains high levels of iron, calcium and Vitamin A, and is used to boost the immune system, as well as treating a wide range of illnesses.
Dr Stanley Hamalilo of the National Institute for Natural Plant Products promotes medicinal plants such as moringa in central and southern Zambia. Chris Kakunta visited his farm, 100 kilometres northwest of Lusaka, to find out more about this plant which some call the miracle tree.
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BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Dr Stanley Hamalilo describing the many benefits of the moringa tree. The interview comes from a radio pack produced by CTA.
Hamalilo Well, when we are talking about moringa, it has actually been proved that moringa is one of the powerful plants, or trees, which has got very high medicinal properties, and not only on the part of healing. It also contains essential elements like minerals, vitamins, which you cannot find in these other plants. So generally, when you talk about moringa, moringa is like a miracle tree, they way we call it. It?s a miracle tree.
Kakunta Being a miracle tree, do you have some examples of certain illnesses that it is able to cure?
Hamalilo When you talk about the problems of high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis ? we are talking about the loss of calcium from the bones ? it has actually very high calcium, which you cannot compare in milk. So for bone density building up, it is actually very good.
Kakunta Now you mentioned promoting this particular tree; in what areas are you promoting it?
Hamalilo Well we are promoting on the nutrition part, and as well on the medicinal part. Because when you are talking about the nutrition part, there is a certain programme that we are doing on the HIV programme. Or just let me give a little formula where you get yellow maize or yellow corn, or popcorn. You know popcorn it has got a very high percentage of selenium, which helps to build up the immune system in human beings. If you get about 1 kg of popcorn, 1 kg of finger millet, 2 kg of soya beans, 1 kg of groundnut. You mix all these ingredients together; of course you have to take for milling. When you get the flour then you mix it with 400 grams of moringa powder. Then a patient is told to be getting one cup of this mixture, and in the evening one cup. At the end of the day, you will see how this person is going to build up the immune system.
Kakunta And this has been working out very well?
Hamalilo And this has been actually tremendously working, and powerful results in all the areas that we have introduced this programme.
Kakunta Here at the farm you are also feeding your livestock with moringa branches. Are they nutritious too?
Hamalilo That is the beauty of moringa. As I said in the first place, that this is actually a miracle plant. You see, when you look at all these animals, including even birds. You actually get these leaves of the moringa; then you dry them in the shade. You don?t dry them in the open place. There is a special place that we dry these plants; they have to use a shade drying. Then after they have done that then you bring them, you pulverise them. Which means you pound them. Then after they have been pounded, then actually you can add them to any feed, and give it to animals and birds. And at the end of the day you are going to discover that the birds will actually flourish, and the animals also will flourish, and they will have less infectious diseases because of the system which is so powerful.
Kakunta In terms of encouraging the small-scale farmers to grow this particular plant, do you have programmes on the ground?
Hamalilo We are working in collaboration with the ministry of agriculture and co-operatives department. So we are actually going to train the members of the co-operatives how actually to grow this plant, how to process it and how to use it at the end of the day.
Kakunta Wonderful. Now, what type of materials do you use for planting it?
Hamalilo Well we just use the stem. You can just cut the stem and then plant it directly. It is a very cheap kind of a thing. It is very easy. Within a short time, maybe within two years, you will have a very big forest of moringa. Then the other method is seed. You actually put in the seedling sacks, and then wait for them to germinate. When they germinate you can actually go around and plant them around your farm or any other place that you would like these plants to be.
Kakunta Here at your farm I have seen quite a number of moringa trees. Are you also using them for other purposes, other than the medicine?
Hamalilo Yes, yes. We are using them for animals, as I said, we are using them for the chickens. And we are using them also for water purification, we are using the seed. So you just have to pulverise the seed of moringa, and then you add it in the water that you want to drink, and then within 10-20 minutes time that water is purified, you can use it. And also for fertilising the fields. So we can chop some seeds or flowers or the leaves together, and then after you have done that you can actually put them in the growing pots, and then you put your flowers there. The flowers they shoot up nicely.
Kakunta This tree is relatively new here in Zambia. To what extent do you think that through your programme this tree will be able to be adopted by many small-scale farmers?
Hamalilo Well we have actually seen already that the movement is very nice, and people have started to appreciate the plant, because those who have already used it, they are actually spreading the information to others. We believe that with the help of the government and other stakeholders and other NGOs who are interested to come up with this kind of programme. Especially to alleviate the problem of poverty. Because I believe the coming of moringa is one way of reducing the impact of poverty in the lives of people. As they have animals, they will feed them, the animals, they will sell them, they will have money, at the end of the day. End of track.||