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Prospects and Challenges in the Utilization of moringa oleifera lam. for Agroecosystem Sustainability in Nigeria
This paper reviews the practice of continuous crop production relative to the traditional shifting cultivation system and the associated impacts on the environment. It highlights the potentials of the use of Moringa oleifera for agro ecosystem sustainability. When used as a green manure Moringa can generate as high as 650 metric tons of green matter per hectare through which it can richly supply essential nutrients such as calcium(26.4g kg-1DM), phosphorus(1.36g kg-1DM) and potassium(21.7g kg-1DM). Its plant growth enhancing properties (phytohormone) can increase yield by as much as 20-35% while the cake derived from the oil extraction process is an excellent soil conditioner. Futhermore, Moringa has biopesticidal properties and serves as windbreak and mulch material. These beneficial ecological properties, apart from the medicinal, nutritional and industrial properties which have implications for socioeconomic development of households, suggest that Moringa could be exploited for agroecosystem sustainability as a strategy to supporting the emerging practice of continuous cultivation for food security. The major challenge now is the popularization of the plant among farmers, as studies have shown a high level of ignorance of the plant. This will require a well coordinated programme involving policy development, research in such areas as agronomy, physiology and farming systems as well as extension services.