Wednesday 29 July 2015

Moringa, magical tree can end world hunger?

Moringa seller

Its green leaves contain more calcium than cow's milk
and more iron than spinach
Mulher Karo retira folhas verdes dos talos da moringa  (Foto: © Haroldo Castro/Época)

Karo woman removes green leaves of Moringa stems to prepare meal 
( Photo: © Haroldo Castro / season )

Few Brazilians have heard of a plant called Moringa. Native to 
Asia and Africa, the tree of up to 12 meters high provides abundant
 branches laden with small green leaves. 
Considered as a panacea for many ills - treatment of malaria 
stomach pains - and a food with high nutritional value and an 
excellent composition of protein, vitamins and 
minerals, the Moringa tree is one of those that all inhabitants
 of the tropics should 
have in the backyard.

Of the 14 identified species, two are the most popular. Native 
to the Himalayan slopes, Moringa oleifera has been recognized 
by Ayurvedic medicine as an important medicinal herb for four 
thousand years. The Indian plant was eventually spread 
throughout the world and came to Brazil.

A related species is the Moringa stenotepala, native to eastern 
Africa. According to 
researchers at the University of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, researching 
the plant for nearly two decades, moringa has a high ability to 
fight different tropical diseases such as 

But what haunts nutritionists is its composition as food. 
Researchers concluded that, 
gram for gram compared with other products, moringa has seven times 
more vitamin C than oranges, four times more vitamin A than carrots, 
four times more calcium than cow's milk, three times more iron than 
spinach and three times more potassium than bananas. What's more, 
the composition of its protein shows an excellent balance of 
essential amino 
acids (those who need to eat because the human body does not 
produce them).

In a country remembered for malnutrition images, note that 
the Ethiopian moringa - 
Moringa stenotepala kind - is abundantly planted in the tropical 
zone of the country 
gives us great enthusiasm. On the road out of Arba Minch towards 
the south, the tree is spread in various fields of corn, as well 
as around the straw huts of the inhabitants of the region.

About 90 km later we arrived in Konso, the gateway to the native 
territory of the people of the valley of the Omo River. The 
traditional villages of Konso ethnicity were 
proclaimed by UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011 due to the 
terraces created for 
agriculture and stone walls that protect human settlements.

Not only that the ingenuity of Konso with their terraces, 
enabling sustainable 
agriculture in arid mountain slopes, the ethnic leaders plant, 
for generations, moringa trees around their homes. Thus, the so 
nutritious green leaflet no shortage to anyone in the community 
and brings a minimum of nutrients to the entire population, 
especially to children.
Árvores de moringa entre as cabanas dos habitantes Konso (Foto: © Haroldo Castro/Época)

Thanks to abundant moringa and cereals and legumes planted in 
Konso terraces , the 
malnutrition ghost departs increasingly from southern Ethiopia. 
In fact, in all the weekly markets in the region , we always 
find bunches and bunches of fresh moringa being 
sold to those who do not have a tree in your yard.

Thamyres Matarozzi , a São Paulo photographer traveling with 
our small group of Brazilians already knew the fame of moringa 
since 2011 when he lived in London. For being vegan and seek a 
conscious power , Thamyres bought in Europe dozens of moringa 
powder bags to complement a possible lack of proteins or 
vitamins for his trip to Ethiopia. What was 
his surprise to see that almost all of the restaurants where 
we ate offered moringa - 
or, in the local language , aleko - in various forms, from 
soup to stew!

Thamyres compra um quilo de moringa fresca (Foto: © Haroldo Castro/Época)

Moringa provides yet another gift to rural communities. 
Due to a particular composition of the oils and proteins 
contained in seeds, when ground and mixed with a blurred and 
non-potable water, extraordinary reaction takes place: the 
water becomes clear. How does this happen? The powder of 
Moringa seeds has the property of attracting clay, sediment 
and bacteria, which end up in the bottom of the container and 
leaving the clear, clean 

Both the seeds of Ethiopian species (Moringa stenopatala) and 
Asian (Moringa oleifera) 
have the same characteristics of decant water. Researchers at 
the Institute of 
Agricultural Sciences, Federal University of Minas Gerais 
proven in laboratory tests 
that the seeds of the Asian moringa can remove 99% of the 
water turbidity.

With all these attributes, it is not difficult to consider 
the moringa as one of the 
most generous plants on the planet. Therefore, several human 
development NGOs that fight poverty and hunger call it 
"super plant", "miracle tree" or "sheet that saves lives."

Once you know all this, our next step will be to buy seeds 
and planting moringa at home!


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