By Jesame Geldenhuys
The Moringa tree could be the future for providing huge nutritional benefits and agricultural industry for impoverished communities across Africa. Damien De Wet, Robert Davies and Daniel Long are three young Grahamstown locals who have started a revolutionary food initiative in the Eastern Cape with the Moringa tree.
The Three Chimneys Farm in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape. The hothouse on the right was built earlier this year by Robert Davies to start the Moringa plantation in August.
Damien De Wet completed his honour’s research this year on the Moringa tree. He explored Moringa as an aspect of sustainable development in South Africa. Here he stands with a glimpse of some of the hundreds of Moringa plants he has helped grow.
Robert Davies and De Wet share thoughts on the progress of their plants. Their latest plantation has shot up and they explain its rapid growth due to the temperature increases of the season. Moringa plants love hot, dry climates.
Newly planted Moringa seedlings wait to begin shooting. The team has been experimenting with different soil and sand varieties; even trying sea-sand- which they have found Moringa grows very well in.
Within two months the plants start showing their famous, miracle little green round leaves known for a variety of nutritional and medicinal uses.
Once the plants have grown over 60cm, the team will start transporting them to local farms to be planted outdoors. They are also in the process of starting a food forest in the Transkei using an initial 500 Moringa trees. They’re hoping this is the beginning of the spread of Moringa across communities around South Africa.
This is the miracle Moringa leaf where most of the nutritional goodness comes from. Commercially, the leaves are usually dried and ground to be sprinkled over food or taken in capsules. The leaves have a herby, tangy kind of taste.
The deep tap root of the Moringa plant allows it to go deeper into the soil away from smaller crops with more shallow root structures, ensuring that competition isn’t a factor in the food forest systems that De Wet and the team hopes for in rural communities.
A little Moringa plant growing in the open- the promise of its green leaves and strong budding echoes the potential of the Moringa plant for South African people.