Kefri promotes moringa tree to fight malnutrition

Just a month after the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (Kefri) opened a station in Lodwar, research scientists are introducing a tree species that is globally known to tackle malnutrition.

Kefri officer-in-charge of Turkana Jesse Owino said about 1,000 tree seedlings of moringa oleifera have been sold just before a campaign for local awareness on the importance of the tree.

Mr Owino told the Business Daily in an interview that Turkana farmers from Turkwel, Kachoda and Lokipoto villages are embracing moringa farming through agro forestry.

Kefri will soon hold a workshop in Lodwar to educate residents on the need to plant the drought resistant and fast growing tree that is nutritious and medicinal. It is used to purify water and is relied upon to combat climate change, desertification and malnutrition.

Mr Owino said Turkana has suitable climate for the tree that has been proved to heal a variety of parasitic diseases and manage diabetes.

He said Kefri has also established that the tree increases production of breast milk whether consumed before or after birth of a baby.

Nutritionists identified moringa tree leaves to be rich in proteins, all eight essential amino acids calcium, iron and vitamin A.

Moringa has three times as much iron as spinach, three times more potassium than bananas, seven times more Vitamin C than oranges and as much proteins as eggs.

Its leaves are also used as a hand sanitiser, making it useful for those living in parts of the country where soap and water are not easily available.

As fodder, it has also been found to increase the weight of cattle as well as boost milk production.

Josphat Marangach, 24, said he started enjoying the benefits of moringa two years ago after he planted five trees.

He crushes dry moringa leaves which he adds to tea as well as to other foods as supplements.

“The trees took six months to grow to a height of about three metres.”