The Moringa Project in a Nutshell - Noyna Roy
Updated: Jun 13, 2020
It all begins with a seed. A small ball that grows into a tall tree, thin branches reaching towards the sky, tiny leaves dotting the branches, bark swaying in the gentlest breeze; this is Moringa oleifera, a superfood that can save the world.
Displayed in vials of test tubes with a $2 price tag, I chanced upon Moringa during my school fair as it lay on the stall table of the Incredible Edible gardening club. As a newly recruited member, I was still learning about the edible plants on campus and the chopped leaves sold in a peculiar manner caught my attention. A quick google search introduced me to Moringa and the numerous benefits. Also known as the “Drumstick tree” in Indian cuisine, this was in fact, a part of my diet all along. Out of the nine species, one is indigenous to India, and the other eight are endemic to the African subcontinent.
Moringa leaves and seeds are consumed in a plethora of South Asian dahls and curries, as a way to extract nutrients. The health benefits of the Moringa plant have been acknowledged and widely used in Indian ayurvedic medicine. However, it is only recently that research has shed light on the miracles of Moringa. Rich in vitamin A, vitamin B1, iron and calcium, to name a few, a 100g dose of Moringa powder can protect from numerous diseases and issues linked to vitamin deficiencies.
One such deficiency is anaemia, which plagues 1 in 3 women and 1 in 2 children in India. To have a productive population, we must have healthy mothers, teenage girls and children. From a young age, I have been involved in restoring Anganwadis in Goa, India, with the help of the Women and Child Department of the Government of Goa (WCD). Anganwadis are public preschools that function as a daycare centre for children aged 0-6, ration distribution centres, and healthcare hubs for adolescent girls, pregnant women, and lactating mothers.
Over the monsoon season in 2018, I collaborated with the WCD to distribute Moringa seeds to all 12 talukas (districts) through seed bombs (balls of soil with a seed inside). The highest quality of Moringa seeds were sourced from Tamil Nadu and we collaborated with local cycling clubs, Xaxti Bikers, to produce and distribute these seed bombs as they cycled around the padi fields and through the forests of Goa.
My initial goal was to plant 500 trees, but through seed bombs and saplings, we planted 10,000 around the state of Goa - 20 times my goal! Planting trees was a success, but disseminating information about the benefits was as critical to the effectiveness of the project. Even though many locals knew Moringa and often mentioned that their grandparents would encourage them to consume it, they didn’t understand the benefits and hence, hadn’t included it in their diets. We encouraged volunteers to collaborate with the WCD taluka heads to attend and discuss methods to consume more Moringa leaves with groups of breastfeeding mothers. Through this, we were able to not only raise awareness about the Moringa project but also educate and revive the consumption of Moringa within the local diets. We started to notice that the community started to take pride in their Moringa trees, even coming into the Anganwadis on a hot day to water them.
In 2019, the project expanded across state borders and a similar model was carried out in collaboration with the WCD and other NGOs in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. We planted an additional 50,000 Moringa trees.
The Moringa Project has repeated annually, collaborating with several governmental and non-governmental organisations and establishing a movement that will have long term benefits for both the environment and society.
This is Moringa, the miracle from our backyard!
Seed Bombs Video by “dArtofScience”: How to make Seed Bombs - dArtofScience
If you would like to learn more, check out our website: https://www.themoringaproject.club/