Dr. Nwora Ozumba is an associate professor in the department of parasitology and entomology at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Akwa, Anambra State. He is currently the National Coordinator of the Moringa Development Association of Nigeria. He spoke to NATH OMAME, JR. on the aims of his association, the challenges before the federal government, the attributes of Moringa and its economic viability.
You have been involved in the Moringa campaign for some years, is the Moringa Development Association a new phase in the campaign?
Yes! The full name is the Moringa Association of Nigeria. It is a Non-Governmental Organisation, (NGO),that is charged with the development of Moringa in Nigeria, so that at the end of day, Moringa will be appreciated in Nigeria from policy makers in government to the grassroots.
Although we have been receiving support from government, the association is driven by the private sector because we want to develop Moringa essentially as a business not as a government business. The association intends to develop Moringa along pure business lines and ethics, so that Nigeria can benefit from the open-ended potentials of Moringa.
Even though the Moringa Development Association is an NGO, don't you think the organisation requires some sort of quasi-government support to get it off the ground or give it a solid financial background so to speak?
Yes, of course. I can tell you that a government parastatal, the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology facilitated the formation of our association. It deplored one of its agency, the Raw Materials Development Council of Nigeria, to locate and bring people with interest in Moringa development in Nigeria together one formidable body.
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The agency also provided financial and logistic support up to when the association was finally inaugurated in December 2010, in Abuja.So, although, we are an NGO, its an organization with government interest. Government cannot afford to ignore Moringa because it has more potential than crude oil. Who are your members?
Our membership is open to all and sundry. The basic qualification for membership is deep interest in the development of Moringa: it could be in research, cultivation, processing or any aspect in the development of Moringa. You need to believe in the numerous attributes of Moringa before you can develop a deep interest in the development in Moringa.
What are the benefits of being a member of Moringa Development Association?
All members are expected to get some support from the association in any aspect of Moringa development that he or she is involved.
Support in what form?
Support can be in form of cash; it could be in terms of expertise or technology. Take for instance, a member who wants to process Moringa Feeds Oil but do not know the technology. We will give such a member the right technical advice and even assist him or her to acquire the right machine. We also assist our members to locate markets for their finished products because production is not completed until the finished products are successfully sold in exchange for cash.
Or, it could be a member who has an interest in Moringa but does not know what to produce. We take his history and advise him or her on the aspect Moringa production that best suits his or her area of interest.
For now, we are involved in awareness creation, propagating the attributes of Moringa because the government, the organized private sector and individuals will only support a cause they know. Although Moringa grows in geographic regions of Nigeria, many people still don't know about it. It is when you show them products from Moringa and the picture of the plan that most people exclaim: “Oh we know the plant, it is found everywhere”. So, a serious campaign aimed at creating awareness for the cultivation of Moringa in Nigeria is worthwhile.
Although Moringa has so many potentials, the first step towards realising these potentials is to put a Moringa seed into the soil. The starting point really is to grow a seed of Moringa. It is only when you can grow a seed of Moringa that you can begin to talk of Moringa Seed Powder; Moringa Seed Oil; Moringa Co-agulant; Moringa Anti-Malaria products; Moringa Spices, seasoning, among others.
Clearly, one of the challenges confronting Nigeria manufacturers is packaging. How do you intend to assist your members who venture into the production of Moringa Products?
Moringa Development Association of Nigeria is involved in all aspects of Moringa development: research, cultivation, processing, packaging, marketing, etc. Our objective is to promote the marketing and exportation of all products from the stable of Moringa Development Association, globally. So, all such products will definitely conform with international standards.
Would your association be able to assist a member to secure the required finance to import a machine for the processing of Moringa from abroad?
Yes. The association is in a better position to assist its members in that direction. The beauty of coming together is that it is easier for a group of people to surmount a problem that may be difficult for one person to successful resolve.
Today, Moringa is a universal language and business. We are in contact with Moringa associations in different parts of the world including African countries, Asia and the United States. This association is in a better position to assist individuals or corporate organisations that are involved in the development of Moringa.
Is your association recognised by the federal government?
This association is registered at the corporate affairs commission, so it is a legal entity that is well established and recognized by the federal government.
Are you in contact with multi-lateral donor organizations?
Yes. Nobody will give you money no matter how lofty your ideas are. Nobody will give me money because I am the national coordinator of Moringa Development Association of Nigeria, but they will give money for projects. And for you to be given money for projects you have to write proposals.
Are putting any proposals together to that effect?
Right now we are developing a lot of proposals especially in the area of creating awareness for the Moringa plant. We are currently developing a curriculum for Moringa so that it will be taught in schools.
Once you achieve a measure of success in your awareness campaign in propagating the attributes of Moringa, entrepreneurs are bound to manifest leading, of course, to greater demand for Moringa. Are you thinking of the problems a dearth of Moringa as a prime source of raw material can pose to your campaign?
Yes. Moringa is an evergreen plant. It remains evergreen from January to December. Moringa leaves are luxuriant in the dry season and rainy season. Nature has designed it to be so, therefore, all that is needed now is for people to start planting.
You once told me that Moringa can be used for water purification. Has your association made any formal presentation to the federal government through the federal ministry of science and technology on the possibility of using Moringa for large-scale water purification in Nigeria?
A group from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria was commissioned to develop a prototype plant water purification which was demonstrated at the First Moringa Summit, last year, in Abuja.
Was the federal government represented at the summit?
Yes. And representatives of the federal government were convinced that it could work in Nigeria. Malawi is currently using Moringa for water purification. It was demonstrated at the summit that the federal government can generate about N500 billion a year from Moringa as well as create thousands of jobs annually.
When you say N500 billion are you referring to tax?
I am referring to the annual turnover of Moringa business.
Was that why you referred to Moringa as Nigeria's evergreen gold?
Yes, Moringa is our evergreen gold because if you compare Moringa and our black gold, which is crude oil, you will see clearly that Moringa is more financially rewarding.
If N500 billion is realised from crude oil sales annually, part of it will go for the amelioration of the environment, combating militancy, payment of ransom for kidnap personnel of oil companies, settlement of oil communities, among others. On the other hand, Moringa helps the environment by releasing a lot of oxygen into the atmosphere. Unlike oil, Moringa has no environmental hazards. If you are looking for money, Moringa presents ample opportunity and if you are looking for knowledge, Moringa is both science and an art.
Nat Omame Jr. - Nath Oname, Jr. is currently the Editor of The Herbal Doctor magazine. He has worked and written for various Newspapers and magazines in Nigeria including The Punch newspaper, Thisweek magazine, PROBE magazine and The Diet newspaper.
Article originally from http://www.paxherbalmagazine.com/paxmag/issue-20/moringa.html
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