THE MORINGA MOONSHOT
Improving Health and Nutrition, Regenerative Agriculture, and Providing
New Income Sources for Kenya’s Women Growers and Youth Groups
USA: Green World Ventures, Green World Campaign, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey;
Zambia: AgriSmart Zambia, Scaling specialists on Moringa & African Indigenous Vegetables (AIV’S)
Kenya: Green World Campaign, Moi University, Eldoret University and AMPATH- IUPUI Medical School Consortium
and Family Preservation Initiative, Kenyan Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO),
Jomo Kenyatta University for Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), University of Nairobi ICRAF, JKUAT
The goal of this project is:
- To develop the indigenous African Moringa tree as a low-cost affordable plant-based and plant-delivered nutritional supplement that can alleviate dietary deficiencies and disease in sub-Sahara Africa. The utilization of Moringa (leaves, seeds and edible oil) from the plant will provide needed vitamins and minerals and serve as nutritional complements to the consumption of traditional staple plant crops, which may provide calories but cannot deliver all the components required for a balanced and healthy diet. The approach is nutritionally flexible, can be tailored to local dietary needs and promotes biodiversity and sound environmental management while providing affordable edible foods that can be grown and consumed locally or processed and stored.
- To introduce Moringa oleifera Leaf as an Alternative Protein Source for Animal Feeds. The increased consumption of livestock, poultry, and fish products in people’s diet threatens to drive production toward the use of more and more conventional crops in animal feeds. In this context, alleviating the tightening grain crop supply and ensuring the healthy development of animal husbandry through innovations in protein feedstuff production remain considerable challenges. Moringa oleifera is a miracle tree species with abundant nutrients, high protein biological value, and good feeding effect. As a new protein feedstuff, M. oleifera has great potential in alleviating the feeding crisis.
- To scale-up production and consumption of African Indigenous Vegetables (AIVs) in the target areas will help address problems related to nutrition, increase food supply and income for the rural households. AIVs, such as amaranth, nightshade, African eggplant, jute mallow, okra, can provide Kenya people with nutrients (Byrnes et al., 2017; Gogo et al., 2017; Hoffman et al. 2018; Yang et al., 2009) and help reduce the number of nutrition-related diseases in Africa (Kamga et al., 2013; Weller et al., 2015). Additionally, except for the contributions made in food security, as a commercial product, AIVs have an immense potential in creating employment opportunities and increasing household income in rural as well as peri-urban areas (Gido et al., 2016), which is becoming a source of income for smallholder farmers in some areas such as Arumeru, Tanzania and Kiambu, Kenya (Shackleton et al., 2010). Despite the important role in improving health and nutrition, the AIVs production popularity is much lower than staple crops such as maize (Ayua et al., 2017; Weller et al. 2015). Due to various restrictions, AIVs are in short supply and they are almost entirely neglected and considered ‘poor people’s’ plants (Muhanji et al., 2011).
The Problem: In the world, nearly 800 million people today are undernourished and unable to obtain sufficient food to meet the minimum energy needs. Almost one-fourth of the undernourished people live in sub-Saharan Africa, which is also the region with the highest proportion of its population undernourished. In Central, East and Southern Africa, the situation is even severe, where, 44% of the total population is undernourished.
Worldwide, malnutrition in the form of deficiencies of essential vitamins and minerals continue to cause severe illness or death in millions of people. Iron deficiency affects more than 3.5 billion people, iodine deficiency affects more than 2 billion people and vitamin A deficiency affects more than 200 million pre-school children around the world. In Africa, 181 million people are at risk and 86 million people are affected by iodine deficiency. In the same region, 52 million people are at risk and a million people are affected by Vitamin A deficiency and 206 million people are affected by iron deficiency.
Given the extent of malnutrition in developed and developing countries, many researchers have tried to measure the cost of malnutrition. Summers simply values malnutrition as a year of life lost at per capita Gross National Income (GNI). Using mean GNI per capita for low and middle income countries (PPP$3830 or US$1160) might have the widest appeal, since it would be unlikely to be internationally acceptable to assign a lower value to the lives of those in poorer countries. Under this approach, the present discounted (5%) value of a life expectancy of 65 years is US$22, 227 or PPP$73,387 (Appleton, 2004). In another study, the World Bank estimates that at the levels of micronutrient malnutrition existing in South Asia, 5% of the gross national product is lost each year due to deficiencies in the intakes of just three nutrients: iron, vitamin A and iodine. For each 50 million in population, that translates into an economic loss of $1 billion per year. Deficiencies in several other micronutrients, zinc in particular, may be similarly widespread with equally serious consequences for health.
One can also estimate the cost of malnutrition based on the cost of fortification programs for a variety of nutrients. Bouis (2002) indicates that although the costs of vitamin A pills themselves are low, an often-quoted cost of vitamin A supplementation, which includes the costs of delivery, is U.S. $0.50 per person per year ($0.25 per capsule). If 1 in 12.5 persons in South Asia were to receive supplements (100 million people in total), this is a cost of $50 million per year, or $500 million over 10 years. An often-quoted cost of iron fortification is U.S. $0.12 per person per year. If a particular food vehicle fortified with iron were to reach 33% of the total (but untargeted) population in South Asia (412 million people), the total cost is again $50 million annually, or $500 million over 10 years.
Breeding staple foods that are dense in minerals and vitamins provides a low-cost, sustainable strategy for reducing levels of micronutrient malnutrition. Getting plants to do the work of fortification, referred to as “bio fortification,” can reach relatively remote rural populations that conventional interventions are not now reaching and can even have benefits for increased agricultural productivity. Bio fortification, thus, complements conventional interventions. Thus, the development of micronutrient dense varieties can be accomplished on a cost effective basis if one can identify native plants that are already rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein. These plants should also be drought resistant, pest resistant and high yielding. One such plant is Moringa. Moringa, a fast-growing, drought-resistant plant that has been cultivated in countries such as India, Mexico and Mauritius which could help reduce malnutrition. Moringa leaves and the young green pods can be eaten like other vegetables.
The leaves can be prepared similarly to spinach and are low in fats and carbohydrates, but contain a very high content of protein, calcium, minerals, iron, and vitamins A, B, and when raw, vitamin C. As a source of nutrients and vitamins, Moringa leaves rank among the best of perennial tropical vegetables.
Moringa leaves contain over three times the amount of iron and three times the amount of vitamin A found in spinach, four times the amount of calcium found in cow’s milk which is especially important for women. Eight ounces of fresh Moringa leaves contain the daily requirement of vitamin A for up to ten people. The addition of two raw Moringa leaves to a child’s daily food or mixing two or three teaspoons of dried Moringa leaf powder into sauces provides significant protection against vitamin, protein and calcium deficiencies to children in high malnutrition risk areas. The high content of iron plus the presence of cofactors which appear to increase the irons bioavailability after consumption make it an ideal candidate to overcome issues with anemia for women, particularly pregnant women and high-risk populations (pediatric and elderly).
The leaves, leaf powder, pods, seeds, flowers, roots and bark of the drought-tolerant Moringa are edible, even palatable. Parts of the tree can also be used for animal feed, domestic cleansers, perfume, dye, fertilizer, medicine, water clarification, rope fiber, and as an agent for tanning hides.
An ecumenical relief agency is cultivating a West African “miracle tree” that could be a nutritional dream come true in nations devastated by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, widespread poverty and resulting malnutrition. Pioneering research by Church World Service, the relief ministry of the U.S. National Council of Churches, in cooperation with the Senegalese organization Alternative Action for African Development, has documented the Moringa tree’s value as a local, sustainable solution to malnutrition, especially among infants, children and mothers. In Africa, a continent particularly hard hit by HIV/AIDS, the organization has planted a million of the fast-growing, drought-resistant trees, which have the potential of building immune systems, an important consideration in treating AIDS. Research by AgriSmart Zambia in concert with Rutgers University shows that Moringa, whether the varieties are grown in Ghana, Senegal or Zambia can provide significant and affordable sources of such nutritional needs and can be easily used at the household level, community or even regional and national levels (via school lunches prepared on site using locally grown and harvested moringa leaves), if and when integrated with national health care and nutritional policy.
An Innovative and Affordable Solution: Moringa is indigenous to Africa, an ‘African solution’ who’s potential has not been tapped, and yet has already been in minor use by some cultures as a dietary supplement. Moringa has been identified by both the US National Academy of Sciences and the WHO as one of the promising neglected plants of the tropics. In either its fresh, processed or value-added states, Moringa can provide low cost affordable remedies for those Africans now suffering from malnutrition. Moringa holds great promise as a rich source of protein, bioavailable iron, selenium, and provitamin A, and vitamins C and E as well being as a rich source of natural plant products that would significantly improve health and lead to a wide range of value-added products for the village, community, regional and international markets. Nonetheless, in spite of its efficacy, Moringa is an underutilized resource.
The collection and cultivation of Moringa will also be based upon sound environmental and sustainable production systems compatible with regional agro/forestry systems
Moringa is already well adapted and accepted by a wide range of societies and cultures who use the leaves in salads or soups; the roots for traditional medicines and as a source of starch; and seeds as a source of edible oils. Moringa can also be processed into a wide range of custom-tailored food supplements and value-added products.
Moringa, a nitrogen-fixing legume, is recognized by FAO/WHO/UNO as a rich source of protein with complete essential amino acids including sulfur-containing amino acids in adequate levels for children (Makker and Becker, 1996). Mycorrhiza associated with its roots (Panwar et al., 2002) promote improved phosphorous and iron uptake in poor highly leached infertile tropical soils (Lu et al., 2002). The edible seed oil has a composition similar to olive oil and rich in vitamin E tocopherols (Ching and Mohamed, 2001; Tsakins et al. 1999; Anwar and Bhanger, 2003). Phytochemical profiles of Moringa allow for increased iron availability (Bennett et al., 2003). While the chemistry of Moringa species has only begun to be examined, extracts from the flowers, leaves, roots, and seeds are widely used in traditional medicine and exhibit anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, and anti-tuberculosis activity.
This project will work toward developing live germplasm banks to serve to distribute seedlings and which will include the wild and domesticated Moringa spp. And varieties already developed for their horticultural production. This project will screen all the accessions for their nutritional and horticultural characteristics for technology transfer and systems of production; harvesting and post-harvest handling will be evaluated to deliver a functional plant-based dietary supplement for human health. Our approach is to first identify the richest Moringa sources of vitamins and minerals and to introduce this crop as a ‘staple’ vegetable/seed oil and dietary supplement for immediate use, scale-up and commercialization while other longer-term programs may work toward the genetic improvement and/or enhancement of the genetic materials now available. Unique to this project is that the bioavailability of these nutrients has already been recognized, and the delivery system as the plant itself, is a socially and culturally accepted plant in many tropical regions. This approach promotes biodiversity, polyculture and sustainability in fragile tropical ecosystems and allows for public ownership and control of the plant while encouraging improved lines to be further developed by the private sector.
We have developed an innovative concept in which locally acceptable plants, indigenous to the targeted region can be developed as food staple complements to deliver important nutritional supplements to undernourished populations. Unlike other approaches, this concept provides flexibility for delivering nutritional supplements to target populations that takes into account their specific nutritional needs, local agricultural practices and cultural norms. To achieve this goal, we have brought together a multi-disciplinary group that will allow improvements in Moringa and AIV’s germplasm to be linked to the actual delivery of nutrients for the end user. Our underlying concept is that efforts to improve nutritional content of foods can be made only by considering the nutritional, agricultural and cultural environment in which foods will be consumed.
In this project, we apply an integration of scientific and health-related disciplines. Our group has previously applied this concept to successfully bring into cultivation, collection and use new healthy African Indigenous Vegetables (AIV”s), spices, teas, and medicinals plants in very resource limited regions of sub-Sahara Africa. By using a strong scientific-based model linked to economic development and trade, we have been successful in also providing new sources of income for the targeted rural communities and new value-added export items (e.g. Rooibos and Honey bush teas from South Africa; Lippia multiflora tea from Ghana; Kinkeliba from Senegal, Hibiscus from Senegal, Kombo butter from Ghana) that are now commercially available in the US with strict quality specifications relative to the natural product profile and antioxidant activity.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
The Moringa Moonshot’s African Moringa Project will initially benefit more than 2,000 women and their families over 5 years, engage over 1,000 youth and lead to more than 10 agri-businesses and to become economically sustainable after the project period, with potential impact on over 50,000 individuals. It will scale-up from there into different parts of Kenya.
The African Moringa Moonshot team seeks an initial $5,000,000 in support over five years to develop a project with four key objectives:
• To introduce moringa (and AIV’s) as a ‘staple’ African Indigenous Plant and vegetable/seed oil and dietary supplement for immediate use in Kenya
• To use it as part of a larger food self-sufficiency project in western Kenya for 10,000 HIV infected clients of AMPATH (www.ampath.org);
• To scale-up production, postharvest and processing of moringa for commercialization for wider distribution locally, regionally, and internationally;
• To support the economic platform of seed development, harvesting, post-harvest handling, and marketing of moringa products that create new economic opportunities for women and youth and their respective grower and marketing associations and value addition opportunities at the village level.
• To create 30 new micro-enterprises; to train over 5,000 Kenyans in growing and/or consuming moringa and other African indigenous vegetables;
• To improve the health and nutrition of Kenyans by increased consumption of moringa and nutrient dense indigenous plants;
• To develop specialized trainings for women and youth in agriculture and agri-business using moringa and AIVs as the economic driver;
• To generate employment for 2,000 Kenyans;
• To create sales reaching $7,500,000 ($US) by project end with a longer-term sustainable plan for the project to continue afterwards.
• To create an improved ecological approach to strengthen community and farming resiliency to climate change by the incorporation of moringa and other indigenous crops.
The goals of the centers are to improve:
- Income for smallholder farmers in the region;
- Access to nutritious vegetables (AIV’s) within the region;
- Gender equity in the horticulture sector;
- Address challenges with regards food safety and minimum standards in Kenya – Good Agricultural Practices (GAP);
- Using a science driven approach evaluate the applicability of introducing technologies that can improve the profitability, competiveness and quality of horticultural produce for sale and for household and community use.
- Strengthen the research and management capacity at the host institution and by the leading support organizations including the government and the NGO community;
- Promote nutrition in the local diet by means of access to seed and fresh African Indigenous Vegetables (AIV) all year around.
- Promote conservation farming by means of practical training and increase the adoption of new practices based on the successes of the cultivation methods at the centers.
- Increase technical capacity and knowledge of improved horticultural practices of trainers and community leaders;
- Increase the number and quality of regionally specific horticultural technologies, and increase their adaption by farmers;
- Improve regional access to credible and relevant horticultural information;
- Improve access to integrated agricultural curriculum;
- Bring together the producers with the buyers and markets to strengthen the value chain and strengthen the commercial horticultural sector;
- Improve sustainability and local capacity at the lead institutions;
- Improve the financial and economic understanding of horticulture as an agri- business.
THE MORINGA MOONSHOT
REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE FOR THE 21st CENTURY
THE INNOVATION INSTITUTE FOR FOOD AND HEALTH at THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS
a. Background and opportunity
- People: need for rural income, food security, climate change adaptation
- Planet: landscape restoration and conservation; climate change mitigation
- Beyond Sustainability to Regeneration
b. Current status of Moringa and Regenerative Crops in Africa
c. Global State of Nutrition – Need for additional high quality protein
d. Africa’s Role
e. Strategic plan for global innovation
- Pan African Plan
- International R&D consortium: universities, institutions
- Public-Private Partnerships
- Perennials as an alternative cropping system
- Regenerative agriculture/soil health for carbon sequestration
- Address protein challenge with a regenerative supply chain
- Building Broad Nutritional Platform: Add moringa to on-the-shelf consumer staples like flour, bread, soups, snacks
- The value proposition for farmers
- Characteristics of the system
- Culture and Agriculture: strengthen community cohesion, indigenous “green” value systems, leverage churches and mosques, mobilize civil society around regeneration
- Required Infrastructure Changes
i. Energy Management (focus on renewables)
ii. Youth engagement: education, employment
iii. Mobility/Farm Access: include electric vehicles
iv. Strengthen rural co-op model
v. Smallholder-industrial integrated value chains
vi. Diversification of national economies, adjacencies
- Geopolitical impact: landscape restoration, rural prosperity, food security, community cohesion, diversified economies, and climate change adaptation reduces conflict over arable land, food shortages, mass migration, inter-group tensions, radical recruitment of unemployed youth, etc.
II. PRODUCTION MODEL
a. Operating Principles
- Critical Equipment Design Parameters
- Facility Sizing/Location
- Precision agriculture
b. Yields per Hectare
c. Harvest technologies (Small Holder & Large Farmers)
d. Farmer Cooperative Development
e. Farming Input systems
- Feed practices
f. Natural Protections
g. Development of Best Practices Sharing
- Role of farmers on sustaining the Regenerative Biosphere
i. Regenerative Crop Processing Plant
- Process Flowsheet
j. Genetic Diversity
III. NUTRITION MODEL
a. Protein composition
b. Lipids and oils
c. Vitamins & Minerals
d. Complex carbohydrates
e. Unique compounds with special health benefit
f. Biological activities
g. Role of location, season, soil, climate, farming practices
IV. CONSUMER PRODUCTS FROM REGENERATIVE CROPS
a. The possible products by geography
- Food Service
- School and Youth programs
b. Applied food science: Flavor improvement, nutritional augmentation, functional foods and nutriceuticals, RUSF/RUTF
c. Other products: livestock feed, plant growth hormone, bioflocculants, seed-oil.
V. EDUCATION MODEL
c. Degrees granted
d. Public outreach and popularization
VI. SOIL PRESERVATION MODEL
a. Root structure of Moringa
b. Water holding properties
c. Microbiota of soil
d. Biodiverse/complementary cultivation
e. Soil-based Carbon Sequestration
VII. NATURAL TOXIN MITIGATION MODEL
b. Infectious Contaminants
c. Role of Production Processing
d. Stability of biomass
VIII. RESTORATION OF DEGRADED LAND
a. Biodiverse perennial agriculture as regenerative system
b. Monitoring and Evaluation (satellite/drone, precision agriculture)
IX. POVERTY ALLEVIATION AND RURAL EMPLOYMENT
X. CARBON SEQUESTRATION AND CLIMATE IMPACT
XI. INFRASTRUCTURE CHANGES
a. Advancing Rural Farming Community Mobility
b. Utililzing solar and other clean energy forms
c. Power Grid Requirements