Monday, July 28, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Not everyone knows the enormous benefits derived from Moringa Oleifera locally known as Malunggay or Kamunggay in Philippine dialect. Research had shown that ounce for ounce of Moringa leaves contain seven times the Vitamin C found in oranges, four times the Vitamin A found in carrots, four times the calcium found in milk, three times the potassium found in bananas and two times the protein found in yogurt. For this reason, it has put Moringa as the most nutritious vegetable plant around and has been used as fortificant in noodles, bread, biscuits, delicacies, burgers, hotdogs, porridge and as tea due to its richness in vitamins and minerals.
It is also known to be the best nutritional support for nursing mothers because it is not only rich in nutritional content but for its medicinal properties as well. By making vegetable soup out from fresh Moringa leaves, it has been found to increase the volume of breastmilk produced by lactating mothers. Another established medicinal property of Moringa Olfeira is its anti bacterial action. French scientists had found that Moringa contains an anti bacterial peptide (a molecule composed of two or more amino acids, the building blocks of proteins) that can destroy the cell membrane of many infectious bacteria.More info, click here.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Mula sa Associated Content.
By Tessa Salazar
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:17:00 01/27/2008
MANILA, Philippines -- Our beaches are a lure, but these students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management were enticed to come for an entirely different reason -- the lowly backyard malunggay.
Malunggay (scientific name: Moringa oleifera) is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree with leaves that can, among other things, increase lactation in nursing mothers and address the problem of malnutrition.
It has actually been dubbed “the most nutritious plant in the world,” and is also an obligatory ingredient in chicken tinola (soup).
But that’s not what Jose Torbay, 26, of Venezuela; David Salamon, 22, of France; Alex Rall, 28, of Germany, and Jesus Benavides, 29, of Mexico, are here for either.
The MIT Sloan students, who are each due to complete a master’s degree in Business Administration in June, are in the Philippines to study the international market outlook on the production of Moringa oil from malunggay seeds as a possible biofuel source.
Since their arrival in the Philippines on Jan. 10, they have been speaking with farmers in Pangasinan, Camarines Sur, Western Samar and a few other provinces. They are scheduled to return to the United States on Feb. 2.
The four students’ research on Moringa oil as a business opportunity started last September at MIT.
They found a study by scientists in India expounding on Moringa oil’s properties—an iodine number better than that of regular diesel, indicating fuel stability; a cetane number indicating good ignition behavior, and a cold filter plugging point indicating suitability even in winter.
According to Salamon, the group’s spokesperson, the Philippines has distinct advantages over other countries for the mass production of Moringa oil.
He cited its geographical proximity to large markets (such as Japan, Korea, India, China and the US West Coast), the availability of labor, and large tracts of idle farmland (5 million hectares, per the Department of Agriculture).
And unlike jatropha—another plant being developed for biofuel production—Moringa will not produce toxic byproducts, Salamon said.
He said its residue could even be used to feed livestock, or help in fighting malnutrition.
At present, the Philippines does not have substantial malunggay plantations, Salamon observed. “But we hope that as this [situation] changes, the world will come to know the Philippines in this regard,” he said.
The students have presented their study to the Department of Agriculture (DA).
The Inquirer came to know of their activity through a Jan. 17 e-mail from the Biolife News Service, a DA-funded advocacy group for biotechnology.
MIT Sloan confirmed that indeed, there were MBA students in the Philippines completing their Global Entrepreneurship Laboratory (G-lab) requirements.
G-Lab is a course that enables teams of management, engineering and science students at MIT to work closely with the top management of international startup companies in solving real-world problems.
G-lab is helping students “shed the belief that the United States is the center of the world economy,” MIT Prof. Richard Locke said in a statement. “They learn through hands-on experience that business models need to be re-adapted from the classroom into the actual country and culture of the company site.”
“In the end, most students are informed by their experience, to the extent that it may directly influence the direction of their careers,” Locke said.
(After completing their studies in the Philippines and acquiring their MBA degrees at MIT Sloan, Benavides will take a job at Cemex as a manager, Rall and Torbay will become associate consultants at McKinsey & Co. in California, and Salamon will be a product manager at Microsoft.)
As it turned out, Salamon and his colleagues were linked up with the Filipino biotech company Secura International Corp., which reportedly pioneered the extraction of pure oil from malunggay seeds.
The suitability of Secura’s own Moringa oil for use as biofuel is being tested in the United States. The results will be known within weeks, Salamon said.
He said the first large Moringa plantation in the Philippines would most likely be set up in Calbayog, Western Samar, as a result of a Jan. 22 memorandum of agreement between engineer Danilo Manayaga, Secura president and CEO, and Calbayog Mayor Mel Senen S. Sarmiento.
Manayaga said the MIT Sloan students were heartened by the eagerness of Filipino farmers to start in the malunggay business.
“They [students] were really fascinated by the scenery we passed on our trips, and were moved by the overwhelming acceptance of this project,” he told the Inquirer.
In an e-mail, the four students said 14 varieties of malunggay had spread around the world from their original habitat in the Himalayas.
But Moringa oil is not widely available anywhere at this time, Salamon said.
And while malunggay plantations can be found in India and some African countries, there are as yet no large-scale plans for extracting the oil because the leaves and green pods are eaten there, he said.
The students said the Philippines was the only country they knew of with “large-scale plans” of producing Moringa oil from malunggay seeds.
They also said ricelands would not be suitable for malunggay plantations, “so Moringa would not interfere with the food chain from this point of view.”
The students estimated a potential overseas demand for Moringa oil reaching “several billion liters per year over the next few years, depending on what industry we are looking at.”
Salamon said his group based this estimate on industry research as well as conversations with potential clients.
(No copy of the group’s study was provided. Patricia Favreau of MIT Sloan’s Office of Media Relations said the final paper with recommendations might take longer to put together.)
The prospect of developing billions of liters of biofuel for the world’s consumption has not always been viewed favorably, or optimistically.
Jean Ziegler, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on the right to food, said biofuel could have a catastrophic impact on world hunger.
He called the conversion of food crops into biofuel “a crime against humanity,” saying it would lead to food shortages and price jumps that would push millions of impoverished people to starvation.
But according to Salamon, extracting oil from malunggay seeds for the world market is a project that strongly aligns national, social and business interests.
And this makes the project all the more fulfilling for them: “In our future careers, we will remember this as an example where public and private sector interests can coincide and work together.”
Per the Biolife News Service release, the MIT Sloan students said that with a 10-ha malunggay farm, a farmer could earn P2 million during the first year, P3 million in the next three years, and P4 million in the next four years. In addition, the meal, or sapal, of malunggay seeds may be used as livestock feed.
(The revenue computations were based on the business proposal offered by Secura and the estimated yields of malunggay seeds per hectare of land.)
Comparatively, a farmer could earn P1,440,000 a year planting corn, or P814,000 a year planting coconuts.
In the oil extraction plants that will be set up alongside the malunggay plantations, the labor force per manufacturing plant is estimated at 100 employees. By 2010, around 3,000 men and women would be employed in an estimated 30 manufacturing sites.
But here’s a whopper: The students said an extraction facility that would pass European and US standards would cost at least P250 million.
Salamon recalled how malunggay’s nutritive properties began to be known in 1999, when it was used in Africa to fight malnutrition.
He said its nutritive properties, such as beta carotene, and the presence of antioxidants such as alpha-tocopherol made it suitable for the production of high-end health products.
He added that malunggay could also be used as an active ingredient in beauty products such as emollients.
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I don't even know the English name of Malunggay. Does anyone know? I used to eat Malunggay leaves everyday when I was still a child growing up in a far away town. How would I not love it when Mom always had her evening soup sprinkled with those green leaves? We even had the tree planted around the house - 4 in front (just outside the gate), few more lined the sides of the house and there were still others at the back.
I never thought that the Malunggay would become a miracle tree. Why? Here is an article written by Domingo Diaz Tapiador, an 82-year old UN retiree, with 27 years of service with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and three years with the World Bank, as project coordinator in Africa, about Malunggay and its amazing leaves.
The leaves of malunggay, dubbed “miracle tree,” have been discovered as the most nutritious bio-food on earth. However, the seeds of malunggay are still hardly known as a highly promising source of bio-fuel (bio-diesel).
The “miracle leaves” of malunggay contain four times the calcium and twice the protein of milk, seven times the vitamin C of oranges, four times the vitamin A (beta-carotene) of carrots, thrice the potassium in bananas, three times the iron content in spinach, with a full complement of minerals and all the amino acids of meat. Three spoonfuls of malunggay leaf powder contain 272 percent of a typical toddler’s daily vitamin A requirement, along with 42 percent of the protein, 125 percent of the calcium, 71 percent of the iron and 22 percent of the vitamin C.
Studies in the Philippines and many other countries have shown that malunggay is nature’s “medicine” cabinet, with all the parts of the tree, besides the leaves, having medicinal or therapeutic value. Dr. Alice Ilaga, director of the Biotechnology Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA), has been calling malunggay a “backyard pharmacy.”
The leaves and flowers of malunggay are ideal for breastfeeding mothers and for malnourished children and the elderly. Using the leaves can also help in the treatment of headaches, bleeding from a shallow cut or wound, insect bites, bacterial or fungal skin complaints, gastric ulcers and diarrhea. The pods are useful in the treatment for worm, liver and spleen problems, and joint pains.
Malunggay has 90 phytonutrient compounds and is an excellent source of natural alternative (versus synthetic) vitamins and minerals. The powdered malunggay leaves are cheaper, safer and better than powdered wholemilk, can rebuild weak bones, enrich anemic blood and enable a malnourished mother to nurse her starving baby. Doctors are known to treat diabetes in West Africa, high blood pressure in India and malnutrition in Senegal, with malunggay.
In the Philippines, it is also known to fight cancer, and scientists have recently reported that it can hike male potency, with more sperm production.
The seeds of malunggay, when mixed with coconut oil or with its own seed oil, can be used to treat arthritis, rheumatism, gout, cramps, sexually transmitted disease (STD), urinary problems, epilepsy and boils. The seeds are also effective for water purification or making contaminated water fit for drinking.
An innovative company called Secura International, Inc. is now producing a pure malunggay all-purpose oil, which they claim to be comparable to or even better than olive oil. The malunggay seed oil is edible like olive oil and can also be used for cosmetics, perfume, massage, and as lubricant oil and industrial oil. But probably its important impact is its highly promising potential for use as “bio-fuel” or bio-diesel.
Many countries, including the Philippines, are now investing huge sums of money for bio-fuel development, but their main concern is that bio-fuel plants should not compete with food production, or making less food available to the people, like using corn and sugarcane for bio-ethanol production. In the case of malunggay, it is like hitting two birds with one stone. The leaves of malunggay are quick and easy to grow in abundance, giving the most nutritious phytonutrients, while the seeds produce oil of the same volume as the popular jatropha curcas, of 38 percent to 40 percent oil, and even better quality.
Both malunggay and jatropha are perennial plants (trees) and can grow on marginal land, with minimal soil fertility and moisture. Both can also have an economic life span of 30 to 50 years.