Moringa oleifera, locally called as “Sohanjna”, is native to Punjab, Pakistan with its relatives in other parts of the world including India, Ghana, Cameroon, etc. For promising nutritional quality of moringa leaves being used as livestock fodder and plant growth enhancer, good oil quality of moringa seed oil and dietary potential of its roots, moringa is being a widely populated plant in dry tropics of the world. From last decade, many research trials have been conducted to optimise production technology and designing of post-harvest leaf processing technology. Here the research findings are being compiled briefly for different purposes.
Choosing moringa variety
In Pakistan, main moringa landraces are categorized based on seed coat colour i.e., black, off-white and dark brown. Black and off white are more common and both landraces are good in its nutrition.
Moringa can be sown two times during a year.
1. 15 February to 1 April
2. 15 July to 15 September
Moringa propagation methods: Moringa can be grown through seeds or stem cuttings. Production through stem cutting is difficult to adapt at large scale while the production through seeds and transplantation of saplings are easy. However, to maintain genetic purity and as backyard tree stem cutting is better option. Stem cutting plantation is very popular and successful in southern Punjab, however, its success rate is poor in other parts of the country.
Production through seed is most suitable because moringa seed has no dormancy periods and can give 90-100% germination when planted as soon as they are mature and harvested. Moreover, moringa seeds have the ability to germinate even up to one year but the germination percentage drops rapidly during rainy season if poorly stored. In stored moringa seeds, germination can be improved through different measures which will be discussed later. The following steps should be carried out during direct seeding.
Direct seeding for cultivating livestock fodder
This method is mostly preferred for the purpose of leaf production to feed livestock as consumption of moringa leaves as livestock fodder can increase 15-20% milk increase in milk production. For this purpose;
• Make and keep the soil wet enough that the top soil should not get dry before seeding but not too wet the seeds drown in the water and struck by root rot (water condition)
• Ploughing of land to a depth of 50 cm
• Prefer to sow fresh mature seeds.
• Before sowing, soak the seeds in aerated water for 8 hours to enhance the germination rate.
• Generally moringa does not require any additional fertilizer. In either case, green manure of farm yard manure can be applied at the time of sowing.
• Moringa is planted on 30 cm high raised beds to facilitate drainage. Bed widths being tested vary from 60–200 cm. So, moringa seeds can be sown on raised beds at 30 × 60 cm planting density for leaf production to feed livestock. If soil is of good condition with no waterlogging or salinity problem and farmer can manage, the planting density can be kept at 100,000 plants per hectare (10 × 10 cm) out of which 60,000 plants can survive after two years. (This method can be used for extensive leaf production)
• Sow the seeds 2 cm deep in the soil by drill method.
• Prefer to place 2 or 3 seeds in one hole to avoid less number of plants.
• After one month, keep only one plant in each hole to avoid competition.
• Use any effective termiticide because termites are big danger to the moringa young saplings.
• When the crop gets a height of more than 3 feet, it can be cut keeping 3 feet remaining portion after every 30 days.