Women farmers Processing Moringa
By Saikou Ceesay
The Nuimi district farming communities in the North Bank Region (NBR) of The Gambia are embarking on a plantation of "Moringa" trees, as an alternative to subsistent agricultural production, following discoveries of its medicinal and nutritional values, confirmed by traditional and scientific findings and researches,GambiaAffairs report.
In The Gambia farmers are engaged in livestock production and subsistence agriculture which provides them with nutritious food, but as a result of drought, subsistent agriculture was undermined.
This particular tree has both medicinal and nutritional values and is resistant to both drought and flood environment. Moringa oleifera, commonly known as the Moringa tree is also call "never die" because of its strong resistance, against drought, floods, among other threats to plants' survivals and sustenance.
Sambou Marong of Essau Village, Nuimi district explained that, because of past droughts and floods incidents affecting majority of the farming communities in The Gambia, they took upon themselves to look at trees that are both flood and drought resistant, adding that, "the leaves of this tree is consumable by human beings and ruminants."
Mr Marong further said: "In addition to these qualities, we also have realized that the tree contains medicinal values. Traditionally, we use the leaves of Moringa tree for malaria disease prevention and treatment. It also treats Anemia, Cancer, and halt diabetes.
"We boil the leaves and give the water to our children to drink for malaria prevention and treatment," he said.
Scientific research shows that the Moringa tree contains about 42 percent of protein, 125 percent Calcium, 61 percent Magnesium, 41 percent Potassium, 71 percent Iron, 272 percent of Vitamin A, and 22 percent Vitamin C.
It is firmly believe that the planting exercise of this type of tree will be able to address poverty and health related problems affecting the peasant farming communities in Nuimi district, and its suburbs.
Moringa growers also generate income from the tree by selling its leaves, bark and roots in the local and urban markets, for nutrition and medicinal purposes.
This particular tree has been in The Gambia for ages, but has of recent attracted scientists' interest, as communities continue to depend on it for protein, without thorough study of its contents. The project is therefore being implemented to explore its usefulness.
"It is cheaper and easier for us to use Moringa tree for anemia, malnutrition, cancer and diabetes treatments, because it is less expensive and accessible," said Mrs Jawara, a house wife of Berending village in Nuimi district.
People in The Gambia, especially rural dwellers, have been using this tree locally without scientific research being done to know all its element and uses. These scientific discoveries spurred farmers to initiate plantation of this tree.
The farmers believe that there is nothing more important than the survival of human beings, nothing more important than nutrition and nothing more important than medicines to treat illnesses.