Aga Khan University and Sindh Agriculture University are jointly promoting Moringa tree planting in Pakistan's Thar desert to fight malnutrition, according to multiple media reports. Moringa has gained popularity as superfood in the West in recent years. People of drought-stricken Tharparkar have been suffering from malnutrition and disease in the middle of a long-running drought in the region. Sindh Agriculture University, Tando Jam, and the Aga Khan University will plant 40,000 moringa tree seedlings in Matiari, a rural district in central Sindh, in an effort to improve the health of malnourished mothers, children and adolescents in the area. The moringa tree plantation campaign has been funded by the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Fund for the Environment, a $10 million fund dedicated to practical solutions to environmental problems.
There is high incidence of stunting and wasting among children in Tharparkar district and elsewhere in rural Sindh due mainly to their very limited diet of daal-roti (lentils and bread) which does not supply essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals for good health and early development. Moringa tree packs 92 essential nutrients, 46 antioxidants, 36 anti-inflammatories and 18 amino acids which help your body heal and build muscle. Native to South Asia, the hardy and drought-resistant Moringa tree can contribute to everything from better vision and stronger immune system to healthier bones and skin. Moringa has 25 times more iron than spinach, 17 times more calcium than milk, 15 times more potassium than bananas and nine times more protein than yoghurt, according to Dr. Shahzad Basra of the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad, Pakistan. “It also has seven times more vitamin C compared to oranges, over 10 times more vitamin A compared to carrots and three times more vitamin E compared to almonds", he added. No wonder the powder made from Moringa leaves is sold as superfood in the West. Global market for Moringa products is estimated at $5 billion and growing at 8% CAGR.
|Child Nutrition in Pakistan. Source: PDHS|
Moringa tree is also known as Drumstick tree. In Pakistan, it is called Suhanjana (سھانجنا) or Mungay (مونگے) tree. Every part of this tree offers uses in nutritional or commercial applications. The leaves, bark, flowers, fruit, seeds, and root of the tree all have medicinal properties. Oil from Moringa seeds is used in foods, perfumes and hair care products, and as a machine lubricant. The seed cake remaining after oil extraction can be used as a green fertilizer and also to purify well water and to remove salt from seawater.
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