Drumstick delivers in drought

By Agropedia on 15 Aug 2018

Drumstick (Moringa oleifera) is a fast-growing drought resistant tree with immense potential to improve food security, nutritional security and soil fertility.  It is particularly promising as a food source in the tropics because the tree is in full leaf at the end of the dry season when other foods are scarce. It can be used as forage for live stock. The immature green pods are the most valued and widely used part of the tree. But the other parts are useful as well. The leaves are highly nutritious, being a significant source of beta-carotene, Vitamin C, protein, iron, and potassium.  It is commonly said that Moringa leaves contain more Vitamin A than carrots, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, more Vitamin C than oranges, and more potassium than bananas. Leaves can be eaten fresh, cooked, or stored as dried powder for many months without refrigeration, and reportedly without loss of nutritional value.  The flowers are also cooked and relished as a delicacy. The seeds yield 38–40% edible oil called ben oil which contains high concentration of behenic acid. The seed cake remaining after oil extraction may be used as a fertilizer or as a flocculent to purify water. The bark, sap, roots, leaves, seeds, oil, and flowers are used in traditional medicine and the sap yields a blue dye.

Encouraging drumstick plantations and interventions to improve value chain would greatly benefit farmers.