Take a leaf out of the book of moringa farmer, Maboang Matlou

When Maboang Matlou and her family learnt that the leaves of Moringa trees are literally bursting with natural goodness, they realised it can help create food security while contributing to the health and wellness of our people. 

They seized the opportunity and planted their first 1 000 moringa trees in 2015, and they’ve never looked back. Today, their family cooperative – Lebokang Farming – owns no less than 7 500 moringa trees, and they’ve successfully started monetising every aspect of the business. 

On the one hand, they supply the leaves to other agro-processors of moringa products, and on the other hand, they produce their own moringa foodstuff. This includes the likes of tea leaves, health powder and salt, which are sold to the retail health sector, as well as their own moringa-infused gin, namely MorGin, which can be found on the shelves of SPAR Tops stores.

What is the moringa hype about, and is it really worth getting into? Well, firstly, moringa leaves are an ultra-rich, yet affordable source of essential vitamins and minerals that should form part of a daily, healthy diet. Just to give you an idea: a small serving of moringa leaves has seven times more vitamin C than found in oranges and four times more vitamin A than found in carrots!

Secondly, the moringa (leaves and seed oil) has been known to mankind for ages, for its medicinal and anti-inflammatory properties, to such a degree, that it has been dubbed the “Miracle Tree, Mother’s Best Friend and Miracle Medicine”. It has, for example, been widely cited to improve overall health and alleviate a range of chronic conditions, such as asthma, arthritis, diabetes and cholesterol.

For this reason, the moringa has become highly sought-after by not only the health-conscious man on the street but also manufacturers in medicine- and health-related industries, including the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, animal feed and water treatment industries. Studies indicate that this demand will continue to grow for years to come.

One such recent study, which was published in Fortune Business Insights, shows that the global market for moringa products will grow from US$7.79 billion in 2021, to US$14.80 billion by 2028, which constitutes a notable compound annual growth rate of 9.63%! 

Interestingly though, despite the fact that people around the world clearly rave about the health and nutritional value of the moringa, local demand has not nearly been met. As quoted in the South African Journal of Science, “Although moringa food products are available in local markets in a few areas of South Africa, its production is still insufficient and unstable.”

Which is exactly what Maboang and her family discovered when they first started going down the moringa farming road. Just how easy or difficult will it be to get on board? On this point, Maboang probably captures it best, “You don’t really need to know a lot about the moringa industry to get into it, as there is a lot of help.”

Accordingly, Maboang and her family enterprise receive ongoing mentoring from the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) on how to grow moringa trees. The Innovation Hub assists them with research and the development of moringa products and the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) helps with marketing material, access to markets, and training on the business side of things.

Maboang’s best advice to aspiring moringa farmers? “Have a vision, think about what you would like to achieve in the long term, and do proper research.” So, if you’re ready to take a leaf out of Maboang and her family’s book, here’s a link to an ultra-useful study on the agricultural development of moringa: https://www.idc.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Luhlaza-ISS_Moringa-Research-Study_Final-Report.pdf

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