Moringa tree, from “fence tree” to “rescue tree”
Words and photos by Amadou Baraze, Communications Officer, World Vision Niger
Ramata says she learned to garden from her 70-year-old grandmother, who used to grow calabash. With the recurrence of food crises in Niger, Ramata and her mates decided to seek a portion of land from the mayor of their village to practice gardening.
"There was food crisis here, but my family and I did not experience its consequences and all this thanks to our Moringa trees. We ate some of the produce and sold the other part to buy grain and also cover some of our needs. We are very grateful to World Vision which introduced Moringa growing to us," says Ramata, 37, a mother of three children.
Indeed, Moringa, this miraculous tree that resists the arid sahel climate and is very popular because of its nutritional and medicinal virtue, was first known as a "fence tree" by local people as it was planted around compounds before. Today it is a "rescue tree" as it is precisely this tree that has allowed many families to survive the horrors of the food crisis in Niger.
"With all the benefits I gained in growing Moringa, I can assure you that even if the harvest is good this year, I will continue working in the garden because it is more reliable than rainfed crops," Ramata adds.
Ramata learned to garden from her 70-year-old grandmother who used to grow calabash. With the recurrence of food crises in Niger, Ramata and her mates decided to seek a portion of land from the mayor of their village to practice gardening.
"The men having left the village to large cities and neighbouring countries to search for food, we, women, we could not stay crossed hands and watch our children die thus we went to the mayor to request a portion of land on which we can practice gardening and take care of our families,” Ramata says.
Today, they are about 53 women formed in a grouping that are growing Moringa in Diagourou village.
"Before, we only produced vegetables and lettuce, but with these we could only harvest once a year. World Vision, which has always supported us since we started gardening, proposed to grow something lasting and to that they brought us the seeds of moringa," Ramata says.
To make the cultivation of Moringa a success, World Vision has sought the assistance from the municipal agricultural technician to supervise and advise the women working on the Diagourou garden.
The benefits of Moringa are huge and it is not only Ramata who could tell us. Hannatou, her daughter of 13, is a student at the sixth level of primary school.
"I like eating moringa especially when it is mixed with gari [cassava powder]," Hannatou says.
Moringa leaves are now very popular in Niger. Adults eat the cooked leaves and turn the green ones into powder which they mix with porridge for infants. It is now recognised as a very effective way to fight against malnutrition.
Hannatou adds, "I'm happy because thanks to our moringa garden, I eat at home, I have school supplies and I wear nice clothes to go to school.”
Today, to support the efforts of Ramata and these brave women of Diagourou, World Vision has, in addition to the seeds, afforded to them a fence for the garden, made of wire mesh, to prevent animals from destroying the crops and has also installed a mechanised water supply to facilitate watering the Moringa trees.