farmeric March 11th, 2008
A 4-man team of graduating MBA students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), visited the Philippines to study the wide-scale production of Malunggay (Moringa). They presented their study in a forum organized by the Department of Agriculture on the 17th of January 2008. In their presentation, they recommended that it is now the right time for the Philippines to position the country as the main source of malunggay in international trade,or some other country will do it.
I’ve received some emails from the readers of this website asking me on how to plant a malunggay. Although we have 2 malunggays in our backyard, which we planted as we what we are accustomed and that is through stem cutting, I really don’t have any idea on how to plant malunggay for a mass scale production. Since I have started an article about malunggay , I guess I owe something to the readers and so I did my own research.
According to Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center (AVRDC), there are 3 options to plant a malunggay.
1. Direct Seeding
This is preferred when plenty of seeds is available and labor is limited
Allows flexibility but requires extra labor and cost in raising seedlings.
3. Hard Stem Cuttings
Used when the availability of seed is limited but labor is plentiful.
Option 1 - Direct Seeding
Sow two or three seeds per hill with a depth of 2 cm. Two weeks after germination, pull out the weakest seedlings and leave the strongest one. For leaf, pod and seed production, put a space of 3-5 meters between rows and plants. For production of leaves ,a narrow space plants of 10-20 centimeters (cm) within rows of 30-50 cm apart allows harvest of young edible shoots every two to three weeks.
Option 2 - Transplanting
This option consists of two steps: seeding production and field planting.
Seedling production. Grow seedlings under a shade or in screenhouse with at least 50% shade.Sow two to three seeds per cell with 3-4 cm wide and deep. Seedlings can be grown in trays or clay pot as well. Slightly wet the soil, but not wet, every morning as needed using a fine mist sprinkler. After one week of sprouting, take out the weakest sprout and just leave the strongest one. Sseedlings can be transplanted one month after sowing.
Field planting. Depending on the needs,spacings are similar to those recommended in the direct seeding method. Malunggay may also be planted 1 meter apart or closer to establish a living fence posts that can be used to support climbing crops and vines.
Option 3 - Stem Cuttings
In our town, this is the most popular method of planting a malunggay. As expected, trees from stem cuttings grow faster but develop a shallow root system which makes them susceptible to moisture stress and wind damage. Incidentally, our 2 malunggays in our backyard survive the past 2 strongest typhoons to hit the country.
The best for stem cuttings is using the hard wood branch of a tree that is at least one year old rather than using the soft,green stem part. Cuttings can be 45-150 centimeters long with diameter of 4-16 centimeter. Plant the cuttings one -third of the length in a light, sandy soil if planted directly. Nursery is also recommended and the cuttings are ready for planting after 2-3 months.
Generally, malunggay are known for being drought resistant and grows in practically in all kinds of well-drained soils without additions of fertilizer. The deep root systems of malunggay is efficient in looking for nutrients in the soil.
A friend told me that more and more families are now planting malunggay in order to overcome extreme poverty and provide them with food and cash as well. Even the Department of Agriculture-Biotehcnology Program Implementation Unit (DA-BPIU) - Philippines has launched its campaign for massive planting of malunggay in an effort to fight hunger, poverty and malnutrition in the country.
For more information, kindly visit AVRDC - the World Vegetable Center is the leading international non-profit institute for vegetable research and development worldwide.Ang Malunggay! Bow!How to Propagate MoringaOther Uses of Moringa or Malunggay