Staff and volunteers in FRB's Burkina Faso-Central program are finding creative ways to improve nutrition using one very special tree.
Innovative households in FRB’s Burkina Faso-Central program are inspiring their communities to plant and use products from the fast-growing and highly nutritive moringa tree in their daily diets.
The program encourages specially-identified households to try new technologies like System of Rice Intensification (SRI), planting in holes, organic composting, and using moringa, and then to invite others to do the same. The edible leaves, seeds, roots and flowers of moringa, a plant native to Africa and Asia, are rich in protein, minerals, and vitamins A, B and C. Crushed seeds can be used to purify water, and powdered moringa leaf, in porridge or soup, is given to severely malnourished children.
The local partner distributed nursery-grown moringa plants to 158 participants who received training in the many uses of this “miracle tree.” Rising to the challenge of finding ways to use moringa in the kitchen, these producers came up with a variety of recipes for a moringa tasting event in December, in the town of Pella. Attendees included the innovators themselves, action research groups, administrative and communal authorities, technical agents, religious community leaders, and staff from Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). Among the dishes offered for sampling were couscous with moringa, fried moringa leaves, moringa leaf & peanut butter sauce, and a moringa powder-based soup.
The event allowed all partners and attendees to learn more about the activities of the producers, and allowed the communal authorities to appreciate the quality and benefits of the moringa plant. A discussion opportunity later in the day gave all the participating action research groups a chance to share their experiences and learning with other producers. It also awakened a widespread interest in the production and consumption of moringa to improve overall nutrition.
Program plans for the short term are to continue to monitor the planting and survival rate of the trees, train 50 women in the extraction of oil from the seed to make moringa-based soap, organize training workshops on the value of combining vegetables and moringa for household nutrition, and to host more tasting events.
Burkina Faso Central encompasses 42 communities, 158 households, and 1580 individuals.