|PLATFORM2013: Production, processing and marketing of Moringa Oleifera by rural women|
|Tuesday, 14 January 2014 10:00|
University of Ibadan’s article in PLATFORM2013 outlines how the popular superfood moringa oleifera became part of a University of Ibadan value-chain research project in the field of agricultural extension and rural development. This has resulted in community uptake of production, processing and marketing skills, which has led to income generation and improved rural community well-being.
Researcher: Prof. Janice Olawoye (PI) | Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development | University of Ibadan.
[Portrait: Vice-Chancellor Prof. Isaac Folorunso Adewole]
Research in Context
Background to the development project
CIRDP was designed with relevant activities to accomplish the overall project goals of improving welfare and livelihoods of rural dwellers, promoting gender equity and alleviating poverty, while enhancing the research and teaching environment for staff and students of the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry. The four components of the project are: Capacity-Building, Social Capital Development, Institution Strengthening, and Enhancing Teaching and Research.
Over the project period from 2009 to 2013, several training workshops were conducted for the rural inhabitants including: sweet potato production; processing and consumption for women; rearing snails for women; and rearing grasscutters (the greater cane rat) for men. In each of these workshops, the emphasis has been upon teaching new skills and alternative activities that can generate income for the rural dwellers.
Equipment and start-up materials were provided to the participants to enable them to begin the production. Follow-up visits have confirmed that, to a large extent, the activities are yielding sustainable additional income. Processing equipment for oil palm processors and cassava processors was fabricated and given to women’s groups, reducing the drudgery and expense of some of their major activities. Equipment was also given to a group of blacksmiths to ensure that there was greater gender equity in the project as the men began to feel marginalised, with more attention being given to the women of the community.
Project activities with rural women and moringa olifera
Moringa olifera is marketed globally as a “superfood” with numerous benefits including contributing to muscle growth, skin health, improved immune system functioning, weight loss and as a natural source of nutrients.
With participation by the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) at the University and the involvement of a student organisation, Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), as well as an NGO, the training workshop was a well-coordinated case of private, public and student partnership.
Even before the workshop took place, 2 000 stands of moringa had been established by the University staff, together with the help of undergraduate students from the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry (A&F). This meant that as soon as the training for the group of 25 women was completed, they were able to start harvesting, processing and marketing. The A&F Faculty has a trained agriculturalist residing in the community who is able to assist the farmers, male and female, with their production problems. He has been able to advise the women on the production, processing and marketing of the moringa that is now being sold in powder form. One of the identified problems was the difficulty in drying the moringa leaves during the rainy season. The project was able to give the women a locally fabricated dryer to overcome this constraint.
With enlightenment about the nutritional and medicinal benefits of the product, moringa powder is now being sold and used not only locally, but also outside the community. Several people in the community have stated that their health has improved with the regular intake of moringa olifera as tea or mixed with their meal.
The moringa plantation has now grown to about 5 000 stands and the women report that they are making a significant additional income. With further capacity building, their group has become more effective in assigning work and obtaining profits equitably. Initially a quantity of 1 000 packaging and labelling materials was supplied, but with the instruction that after this was used up, the women would have to purchase their own. The project staff linked the women with the suppliers and, from their profit, the women were able to replace their materials and continue to sell their produce. From all indications, this has been a sustainable intervention.
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DRUSSA Research Uptake Champion at University of Ibadan
PLATFORM2013 writers / researchers University of Ibadan
Co-authors: Prof. A A Ladele, Prof. A E Adekoya, Dr Stella O Odebode and Dr O B Oyesola
Read this article on pages 16 and 17 of PLATFORM2013 – a print and digital publication from the DRUSSA Universities in Sub-Saharan Africa [SSA] – aimed at accessibly communicating evidence-based development research with the goal of deepening its reach and impact in the region.
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