Drumstick / Moringa farming in india, Yield and Profit per acre

Moringa, the Indian superfood. Rich in protein and fiber, cheap, and a plant that can be cultivated almost anywhere in India. The leaf, fruit, and flowers are consumed The flowers have a very short shelf life and are not commercially available. The leaves are used in salads, raw or can be consumed cooked. The fruit is rich in nutrients and vitamins and is also used in various ayurvedic medicines.

the use of moringa is wide. IT treats a range of conditions from obesity, constipation, and malnutrition. The high protein content and vitamin C (more than oranges) make the leaves special. it’s known to have more calcium than milk, more potassium than bananas, 9 times more iron than spinach, and a higher concentration of vitamin A than carrots. Moringa leaves are dried and powdered to create capsules.

With the wide range of benefits of moringa comes a demand which is waiting to be filled. While few companies manufacture processed capsule moringa, the lack of awareness about its benefits hinders the market. Many consumers do not know the benefits, do not know how to cook or consume the leaves, or are unavailable in the region.

Moringa leaves have a short shelf life. This makes it scarce in the market. Very few shops sell moringa leaves. unlike amaranth palak and other leafy vegetables, moringa leaves are not sold in the market. Drumsticks, the fruit of the moringa plant though is widely sold and available.

  • Climate for  Cultivation: Moringa is best cultivated where climatic conditions are dry. Mediterranean weather is best suited for moringa cultivation though tropical conditions are suitable too. Moringa loves a period of dry weather during flowering and a bit of irrigation during fruiting. Rains during flowering are not good as the flowers drop and pest attacks are high when flowering.
  • Ideal Soil for  Cultivation: Moringa does best in sandy loam soil. Red soil is the best type for moringa cultivation. Moringa though can survive and do reasonably well in almost all kinds of soil including slightly saline soil. Soil which is too sandy or has high clay content is not desirable for commercial cultivation of moringa. Clay soil will cause slow growth in plants due to slower root penetration and water stagnation too is a concern. Fortunately, clay soil can be rectified by adding organic matter to the soil before planting. Compost and cow manure can help loosen the soil, especially in the root areas.
  • Varieties of Moringa: Commercially various kinds of moringa varieties have their characteristics. Some of the common varieties are 
    • PKM1
    • PKM2
    • ODC 3
    • MOMAX3
  • Propagation: Propagation of Moringa in commercial cultivation is done through seeds. Stem propagation is faster, much more effective and the growth is better. Stem propagation has the advantage of being the same type as the parent with the same yield unless soil conditions and weather varies. But unfortunately, availability of stem on a large scale is not possible and thus farmers resort to seed propagation of moringa in commercial cultivation. Fortunately, a wide range of reliable seeds is available today to ensure good quality plants. 
  • Season: Moringa is planted during the monsoon and the yield happens depending on the variety. Moringa plants usually flower twice a year but some plants are known to only flower once a year. Summer is the right season for moringa. March to August is the peak season for moringa. As for leaves, there is no season and they are available year-round except during the monsoon when the trees are fully pruned. Trees that flower and fruit twice a year will also produce flowers post-monsoon, usually around September or October. 
  • Land Preparation: Land preparation is basic for moringa plantations. There is no need for raised beds or use of excessive fertilizers or manure inf you are planting moringa. for Direct sowing or Replanting of the plants, a hand full of cow manure per pit is all that is required unless it is clay soil where 4-5 kilos of Compost mixed with the soil will help condition the soil for better growth of plants. The field should be flattened and there should be no water stagnation. Drainage areas should be provided and if possible canals on the side should be provided for better drainage during monsoon.
  • Planting. Planting of Saplings should be done after 1 month from germination. Moringa plants should not be in pots or plastic bags for over a month as the roots will be restrained and growth will be restricted. For seeds, direct sowing is recommended in most cases. Soak the seeds one day before sowing in lukewarm water for better germination. Water should be provided sufficiently after the sowing of seeds.
  • Spacing and Density: The spacing and density of a plantation depend on the variety of moringa plants. PKM varieties are annual and can be planted in very high density. If planting for fodder, the plantation could accommodate up to 30,000 seeds per acre. For commercial crop as vegetables, 5X7 feet is recommended for ODC3 Varieties which are perennial and last 10 -15 years. Approximately 1200 plants can be accommodated per acre. For PKM1 plants the spacing is 2.5 feet by 5 feet. 
  • Intercropping: Moringa is fast-growing and intercropping is not possible with moringa plantation. Its recommended that all plants in the field be removed and left clean for good cultivation of moringa.
  • Irrigation: Irrigation is recommended post-flowering when the fruit set is in process. Drip pipes should be set up. Apart from the fruiting season, there is no need for irrigation at all for moringa crops. 
  • Fertilizers: Moringa does not require a lot of fertilizers. Basic nutrients are just about enough for its survival. The application of fertilizers could be beneficial to increase the weight of the pods or foliage when necessary. Usually, an application of 50 KG Urea, 50 KG Potash, and 50 KG Phosphorus is all that’s needed per hectare for good growth of Moringa plants
  • Pests: The hairy caterpillars are one of the most common pests in moringa plants. The application of carbaryl or FORS in the right proportion should keep control of these pests. Also, light traps right after monsoon could prevent the infestation of these worms.
  • Diseases: Moringa is a fairly immune plant to most diseases but there are times when moringa is affected, especially due to seasonal changes. 12 notable diseases are found in moringa including canker, root rot, and Leaf spots among others
  • Training and Pruning: The pruning of moringa trees is found to be highly beneficial. Pruning increases the number of stems, reduces the overall height of the tree, and keeps a good shape too. The first pruning is done when the plant is approximately 3 feet. From then on, pruning of stems should be done every 3 months till flowering. Once flowering starts, do not prune the plant. Hard pruning will be beneficial, pre-monsoon. 
  • Harvesting: Harvesting Moringa is a non laborious task as compared to many other plants and trees. The fruits are easily accessible with poles and sometimes even directly. Harvesting for fruits is done when the fruits mature. For leaves, the harvest is at various stages except during monsoon. Moringa leaves are not usually available during monsoon as the trees are hard pruned just before the monsoon. 
  • Post Harvest: While the pods are directly sold to the market, the leaves are the only commodity that requires post-harvest processing. The leaves, depending on the market needs, are either delivered fresh or dried. Sun-dried leaves are not usually preferred and drying is done in the shade with dryers. Depending on the requirements of the customer, the processing of leaves is to be done.
  • Yield: Moringa yield, specifically for pods is dependent on the variety and the location. While the ODC 3 Variety has a potential of 30 KG yield per tree, twice a year, the PKM1 and PKM 2 have the capability of 50 KG per year. Momax3 Variety has a higher yield in terms of fruits. The yield is dependent on pruning, fertigation, and irrigation during flowering and should not be taken as it is.
  • Area of cultivation: Tamil Nadu is the largest producer of moringa. Moringa is also cultivated in Kerala Karnataka, Andhra, and Central India commercially by many farmers. Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh are all areas where moringa cultivation can be highly profitable and feasible for farming.
  • Market information: The market for Moringa is always during the off-season. Moringa pods or drumsticks can cost up to 250 Rs per kilo during the off-season while it can drop to 5 rupees per KG during peak season. Also, the area plays a major role in the price. While Kerala sells drumsticks for 30 Rupees a Kilo, the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu sells the same product for Rupees 5 during peak season. Metros and northern states demand a higher price in the market than rural areas.
  • Weed Control: Weed control is essential in Moringa cultivation regularly. Annual pruning of the trees will result in weeds around the area and keeping the area clean is essential for healthy moringa plants. Regular weeding can be practiced manually.
  • Seed: Seeds are available online and through universities. Moringa seeds are available at Tamil Nadu university for PKM1 and PKM 2 . for ODC 3 Moringa seeds you can directly purchase them online from amazon. You will find the link below.
  • Profit Per acre: When it comes to moringa plantation the profits are based on how much yield you get during the off-season. With normal production, you can expect around 50 KG of moringa pods per year from one tree. With an average cost of 10 Rs, you are looking at a meager 50,000 Rs per acre. With off-season production of approximately 10 KG per plant, your total yield would be 150-200 Rs per KG, and that’s 1500 Rs per plant
  • yield Per acre: When it comes to acreage, the total yield of moringa could be anywhere between 30000 to 35,000 KG per acre. Each tree produces an average of 30-35 KG of pods per year.
  • Yield per plant / Tree: An average yield of 30-35 KG per year is easily attainable with any variety of moringa. ODC3 Promises up to 30 KG Yield twice a year with PKM1 and PKM 2 yielding around 50 KG per plant in a year.
  • Cost of farming: Moringa is one of the easiest plants to care for. With minimum pests and diseases, easy to care and minimal water and fertilizer requirements, the plant is one of the easiest to grow. With the constant demand for leaves and pods, the market is always ready for any quantity of moringa. The only cost for moring cultivation is land preparation, weeding, and an occasional pesticide application.

Farming Moringa in India.

reference: https://agritech.tnau.ac.in

How to cultivate moringa

Moringa comes in 2 varieties and is cultivated for its fruits and leaves. Farmers usually focus on the fruit itself, but there is a good market for leaves too if you find companies that will purchase them. Cultivating leaves is easy but requires that you follow stringent procedures. Organic produce is key to producing leaves commercially. Since the leaves are used for medicinal purposes, cultivating leaves with chemicals is often not recommended. 

Moringa comes in 2 types. The one which is a tree could grow up to 20 feet and the ones which are of the plant variety can grow up to 10 feet and is dense with more leaves. The tree is the native type. It has a longer life span but is not predictable when it comes to yield or production of the fruit itself. While they incur little to no maintenance, the commercial viability for trees is considerably lower as compared to the plant variety. The hybrid varieties have the potential of 50 Tonnes per hectare in yield of frit while the normal tree variety which is considered desi could yield anywhere between 5-10 tonnes per hectare. Hybrid trees can yield up to 20 Tonnes per hectare and are perennial, unlike the annual plant variety.

Irrigation and fertilizer

The irrigation and fertigation of moringa trees vary depending on the type. The plant variety requires more irrigation and fertigation as compared to the tree varieties. Hybrid trees too require timely irrigation and fertigation for better yield. Moringa trees are native to tropical and subtropical climatic conditions. They can tolerate drought and harsh summers. Winters are not well tolerated. Even though they can take harsh summers and short spells of drought, it’s recommended that you irrigate the moringa crop frequently during summer. For a commercial moringa farm, it’s required that you have a healthy and all-around crop throughout the life of the tree.

In general, the Moringa plant is very less demanding. Fertigation before planting, once after 3 months, and then every 6th month of fertigation is required for moringa trees. 

Neem Cake and FYM are used during the land preparation. NPK (45:15:30) Grams per tree are to be applied on the 3rd month and 45 Grams of Nitrogen every 6th month. 

Its always recommended getting a soil test done before planting any tree. Sufficient soil nutrients will require you to up or down the nutrition levels for your moringa plants. As for irrigation, the plant requires water only once a fortnight once they are set. This depends on the soil type and your plant may require water once a week if you are in arid areas.

The Lifespan of a Moringa tree is from 30-40 years. 

Moringa farming for leaves

Leaves are the most cultivated part of the moringa plant. While the fruit itself is considered a vegetable and widely consumed in India, the Leaves are not seasonal and are available throughout the year and have a demand for medicines and also as a vegetable in various parts of India. While the leaves are not usually consumed in the northern part of India, the southern part of India finds its own set of uses for the leaves. From fried moringa leaves to make adding them to dal, there are plenty of ways to use moringa in your daily meal.

Commercially though, Moringa leaves are not sold in most shops or grocery stores. Due to its poor shelf life and lack of interest from customers, moringa leaves are not cultivated to be sold locally. Also, the easy availability of leaves makes moringa leaves less interesting for locals in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Most people find at least one moringa tree in their area, some even plant a tree at home! The leaves from a tree are sufficient enough for a family.

Fortunately, there are uses for the leaves. Moringa Leaves are high in nutrition. They are more nutritious than the fruit itself in many ways. The leaves are dried and converted to capsules. They are also a major part of ayurvedic medicine which makes it widely used and popular. A range of studies about the Leaves indicate that it’s one of the key products which has the chance to eradicate malnutrition in developing and underdeveloped countries. 

For more information on the research visit https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

Moringa fodder farming

One of the benefits of Moringa is that almost all parts are consumed by humans and animals. As fodder, the leaves are nutrient-rich and full of protein. This helps in the growth of young animals. There was no significant difference in milk quality or yield though the milk had an earthy smell to it. Moringa fodder could be more easily available and sometimes in abundance where other crops are not possible to grow. This makes Moringa a possible fodder crop that can be grown for dairy farms. 

Research on Moringa as a fodder crop is available on https://www.researchgate.net/

Moringa leaves are great for young goats and can be considered as a goat feed. Many farmers, especially goat farmers are considering moringa cultivation for goat feed.

Moringa farming seeds of gold

Moringa seeds are rare. They weigh a lot less and they are usually not the best produce to cultivate. Though they have a lot of benefits, the yield is very less making moringa seeds very expensive. The main purpose of moringa seeds is for moringa oil extraction. The cake, after removing the oil is used as animal feed and to purify water where potable water is not available.

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