Critical issues in Investment, Production and Marketing of Moringa oleifera as an Industrial Agricultural raw material in Nigeria
Moringa oleifera Lam, is one of the most useful ‘multi-purpose’ plants known to man. Virtually every part of the tree is beneficial in some way and both rural and urban people depend on it for their livelihood. Though the Moringa tree is widespread throughout the tropics, around farms and compounds and often used as fence especially in Northern Nigeria, not much has been done to enhance its large scale production, processing, marketing and investment as an industrial raw material in Nigeria. With the exception of medium scale cultivation of the tree in Nigeria for the production of leaves as an alternative green vegetable source for human nutritional and other medicinal uses, there have been few attempts to commercialize the tree for the other products: oil for cosmetic and edible purposes, natural coagulant from the seeds and other ancillary uses from virtually all parts of the plant. The paper has attempted to bring to the fore critical issues in the production, processing marketing and commercialization of Moringa and associated products. The cost of processing various Moringa parts to acceptable use, product research and development, highly competitive markets, and the need for regulatory approval by NAFDAC are perhaps some of the most significant constraints. Added to these constraints is the challenge of popularization of the plant among farmers, as studies have shown a high level of ignorance of the plant. Properly articulated cluster programmes will tackle such problems and the likes of emerging markets and products. 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. Information on these is generally unavailable from literature and has to be garnered through practical trials. This takes time and resources that may not be readily available. So far, some nursery practices have been developed in the Federal University of Technology,
Owerri, Nigeria. Despite the critical issues identified, analysis shows that investing in Moringa is a viable enterprise. With a breakeven yield of 1,295kg/ha; profitability index of 2.047 per ha per year; the viability options, when broken down further into specifics like processing, gets even
better with a net return of N11,965,000.00 per ha per year.
Key words: Moringa, Cluster, Profitability index, Cropping Systems, Breakeven yield