The Ethiopian Public Health Institute, Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre and Network (HoA-RECN), Addis Ababa University and Arba Minch University have jointly conducted a daylong Moringa Task Force Stakeholders consultative meeting on November 8, 2014, at Main Campus. Click here to see the Pictures.

‘‘The traditional knowledge we have on moringa needs to be standardized on commercial footings. And for that matter South Nations Nationalities and People’s Region stands committed to support and collaborate with Moringa Task Force Stakeholders in its endeavor,’’ said the Deputy Head of Bureau of Agriculture, Mr Girmame Garuma, in his key-note address.

In order to strengthen the responsibility to enhance moringa production, MTF stakeholders constituted an 8-member Regional Task Force. Arba Minch University’s Academic Affairs Vice President, Dr Agena Anjulo, has been named its chairperson to spearhead the way forward.

Accepting the responsibility, Dr Agena said, ‘‘My research on Moringa moth called Noorda blitealis walker has found this insect has become an insidious pest on Moringa tree in Southern Rift Valley of Ethiopia that feeds on leaves bio-mass causing damage for decades. It doesn’t allow spraying, hence entails further study. Therefore, our future endeavor would be to look for cooperatives with licenses, which will produce, sell and have value chain that will thwart adulterators, benefit producers and facilitate easy access to the customers,’’ he added.

Meeting began with veteran researcher Mr Dechasa Jiru apprising the gathering with his findings. Ethiopian Public Health Institute chairperson and the coordinator of meeting, Dr Asfaw Debella presented the report of MTF consultative meeting held at Bushoftu in May 2014.

Highlighting the medicinal and other traits of moringa, Dr Asfaw, said, its hypoglycemic, and anti-spasmodic; it’s used for bio-gas, pharmaceutical and cosmetic usages. It contains nutrients, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals.

From Arba Minch University, Research Director, Dr Fantahun, in his presentation titled ‘Experience of Moringa utilization and other aspects at SNNPR,’ said moringa trees are widely distributed at 1100 to 1600 meters altitude at Arba Minch, Mirab Abaya, Goffa, Negelle, Keffa and Wollayta Soddo areas.

Moringa with its many vernacular names i.e. Shiferaw, Alako, Shelaqta has multi-purpose usages. It’s potentially beneficial in agro-forestry, medicinal, ecological, environmental usages; bio-diversity, nutritional, industrial, economical etc. Citing its characteristics, he added, it’s used to cure malaria, hypertension, asthma, diabetes.’’

But it’s facing challenges like inadequate information, adulteration, unsustainable utilization followed by lack of data on market potential, insect attack and fragmented collaborative efforts by different stakeholders.

After a brief presentation by the representative of Hawassa Agriculture Research Institute, discussion ensued. Prof Eyasu from Addis Ababa University and Dr Yalemtsehay from Ethiopian Academy of Sciences steered it.

During interactive session, participants from SNNPR Council, South Omo and Gamo Goffa Zone Agriculture departments, Global Team for Local Initiatives, South Agriculture Research Institute, Arba Minch Zuria Woreda Agricultural office and others asked questions as to how further research can be carried out to stimulate its productivity, marketability, networking, value chain and its different varieties.

MTF stakeholders took a field visit to Moringa Cooperative Centre at Lante, 18 kilometers away from AMU. There the participants observed how leaves are nurtured, dried and made into powder and distributed.

By Corporate Communication Directorate (Philips Joseph)