Prof. Dr. Said Abdelhalim Saleh
Moringa is a native plant and is grown wild in Red Sea belts and Southeast Asia. It is a fast-growing tree and
cultivated mainly in semi-arid, tropical and subtropical areas. Moringa is one of the world’s most useful plants, where, all Moringa parts are edible and have long been consumed by humans. Moringa is rich in protein, minerals and vitamins, etc. Thus, it has growing international interest among NGOs, scientists and the private sector, as a source of food supplement for human and livestock.
In Egypt, little knowledge is known about Moringa, although Moringa peregrina is a native tree and growing wild in SINAI mountains since 3000 BC. The ancient Egyptians used its oil for skin protection from sun as well as for wound healing. This article introduces Moringa for cultivation as non-traditional crop in Egypt and its application uses as a good nutritional plant. The Egyptian Scientific Association for Moringa started re-cultivation of Moringa oleifera at the beginning of 2010. We planted tens of thousands of seedlings during the last five years and the cultivated areas of Moringa are annually increasing. Also, there is growing demand by the consumers for Moringa and all its products, where it carries the aspects of humanitarian to poor people for being a dietary supplement for humans and animals, and the importance of medical according to wide use in folk medicine. For this reason, Egyptian Scientific Association for Moringa is seeking to expand Moringa cultivation in Egypt as medical herb or vegetable with high nutritional value and introduce its practical application in nutritional uses and animal feed, etc. Moringa is a multipurpose tree and model for agriculture in SINAI area and newly reclaimed land, where it has high resistance to drought, salinity and high temperatures. Many activities in multidisciplinary fields were conducted during the last few years, where several trips were carried out to collect the wild Moringa plants from SINAI mountains and Red Sea belts. The research team of our project visited SINAI area (AL-TOUR) and HALAYEP & SHALATEEN regions (GABAL ELBA). We aimed to discover and recognize the Egyptian flora in these areas and to collect wild materials of Moringa peregrina. The original people (BEDWEEN) in SINAI area and HALAYEP and SHALATEEN helped our research team to reach the wild Egyptian species of Moringa at different tree distribution among mountain valleys. Many number of Moringa peregrina trees exist inside the mountains were found.
Many thousands of Moringa oleifera seeds were sown in seedling trays at DOKKI Greenhouses site during the last period. The seedlings of Moringa oleifera were transferred and cultivated at the Farms in AL-SALAM village and AL-SHABAB village in middle of SINAI Peninsula and at Experimental Farm of the National Research Centre in BEER ABO KALAM in south of SINIA. Also, we transferred Moringa seedlings to SHALATEEN region on the Red Sea belt and cultivated them at 6 different cultivation areas and 7 Governmental Administrations. We use intensive cultivation in spacings of 15 x 60 cm, resulting in approximately 40000 plants in feddan (4200 m2) for leaves production and to cultivate Moringa plants in spacings of 2 x 3 m, resulting in 700 trees in feddan (4200 m2) for seed production. The plant growth and its behavior evaluated to determine the optimal conditions for cultivation of Moringa oleifera plants to get maximum yield and best quality of Moringa product. Several field trips to SINAI farmers were conducted to follow up the cultivated Moringa plants and to apply optimum treatments for cultivation of Moringa oleifera plants to get maximum yield and best quality. The team work of the Agricultural Division studied the best agronomic of dates and farming methods and fertilizer requirements for Moringa to ensure getting the best product quality with high nutritional value in order to achieve increased concentration of active substances and the same desired effect for better applications uses, especially, nutrition and animal feed. In the first experiment, the effect of different formula of fertilizers was studied. The second experiment investigated several plant densities. The third experiment is aiming to evaluate the response of Moringa oleiferacultivated in two different soil types to different foliar application rates of Nitrogen and Potassium fertilization. In the fourth experiment, we are trying to cultivateMoringa oleifera under inter cropping system with fruit trees such as Valencia Orange trees and Hollywood Plum trees at different cultivation spaces to know the suitable spaces between Moringa oleifera and fruit trees under inter cropping system.
We achieved many good recommendations for Moringa farmers as follows:
- The combination of both organic with chemical fertilizers plus microbial inoculation is recommended, where there is a positive trend to increase Moringa productivity (the best product quantity and quality).
- Concerning the distance among Moringa plants, after planting Moringa at three different agricultural distances to be given three densities plant for unit area, we found that all vegetative traits recorded on plants such as plant height and stem diameter and number of leaves per plant and the total weight of the plant, fresh or dry weights, chlorophyll increased with increasing the agriculture distance between plants.
- Moringa plants cultivated in sandy soil showed a better response in all vegetative growth characters (plant height and number of leaves/plant), pod yield and its components (number of pods/plant, mean pod length and number of seeds/plant) compared to those cultivated in calcareous soil.
- Moringa production can be sustained even in calcareous soils by simple foliar application treatments of Nitrogen and Potassium. All foliar application treatments improved the vegetative growth characters, yield and pod quality as well as chemical contents (total chlorophyll, vitamin C, N, K and Ca) of leaves compared to untreated control. The combined treatment of N and K ranked first in increasing Moringa growth and its productivity, followed by the single N and lastly the single K treatment.
- Moringa consumers have more information about Moring products and their benefits and quality for nutrition. So, we can recommend using Moringa for human nutrition and animal feeding.
- The cultivation of Moringa seeds directly into the soil and\or using seedlings system is recommended.
- In conclusion, we introduced Moringa plants to Egyptian farmers and consumers as nontraditional vegetable crop. The cultivated areas of Moringa have been increased. Good recommendations for Moringa farmers were applied. Other experiments are still running and data has not completed yet. Once we collect data, the results will mention in other article.
More about author|
Prof. Dr./ Said Abdelhalim Saleh
Researcher Professor at Horticultural Crops Technology Dept.,
Agricultural & Biological Research Division,
National Research Centre