Monday, December 2, 2013

Harvesting Moringa Leaves

Earlier this year, during the summer months, Savera Farms started working on Moringa leaf production. Once our saplings were about 45 days old, we transplanted them in the fields around first week of September. Some of you may recall, we setup a sprinkler system for Moringa. After initial signs of promise, we realized the sprinklers were not very effective due to strong wind patterns which would disperse the water in non-target areas and lead to wastage. Fast forward several more weeks after installing drip irrigation we witnessed a healthy growth spurt. With the arrival of winter monsoons, our Moringa plants started to look supple and distinctly healthier. The photo below does not do justice since we were several meters away due to an irrigation ditch in between.


Since the monsoons stuck around for a few weeks, it made for a challenging task to harvest and process the leaves. Though we are well into drying and packaging our initial batch, we are still trying to optimize our drying and processing practices. With Moringa leaves, the goal is to quickly dry the harvest, preserve the nutrients and introduce minimum contaminants. In India, most Moringa leaves are collected from existing trees or plantations which were not planned for high volume production. In contrast, we decided to proceed with intense density cultivation, similar to a tea leaf plantation. When the plants were around 4 feet tall, we started to harvest. The expectation is to be able to harvest every 45 days going forward. In an effort to optimize our Moringa for higher leaf yield, we started pruning the trees to about 3 feet level. The rationale behind this was to maximize foliage at lower heights for easy harvest. In an phased manner, we will convert the trees into Moringa 'shrubs' to increase leaf production.


After pruning, the bright green leaves were placed on a drying hammock for air drying. Direct sunlight was avoided under the 75% shade net. After 2 days of air drying, the leaves were crisp and easy to crush. After another day of drying, the leaves were brittle at which time they are expected to contain less that 10% moisture. During the drying process, the leaves turn to a darker shade of green. We expect to conclude packaging our first batch in the coming days and for the next batch we will begin investigating automated or mechanized dehydrators. They should offer a more efficient and controlled drying environment.

Our journey with Moringa leaves has just begun, more to come so stay tuned!

8 comments:

  1. Respectred sir,

    your moringa dry leaf seems fade green but the export quality and nutrient content will be high in pale green and the shade drying method is not suitable for large and quality production coz you are using shade net .air ventilation is not that much good in shade net

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  2. Thanks for the feedback. What is a suitable method of drying them ?

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  3. So are you saying drip irrigation is better than sprinkler and continue to rely on drip irrigation instead of sprinkler?.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, that is correct. Our attempt to irrigate via sprinklers did not turn out to be a very efficient method. Multiple factors should be considered for sprinklers and in this case the wind patterns were too strong for the sprinklers to be effective.

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  4. Good to see the first batch of moringa leaf production. Congratulations! Have you tied up with someone for selling the leaves? Since your focus is on production of leaves, you will have regular batches every 6 to 8 weeks. What are your plans for marketing your produce, as I see this to be the main problem?
    Thanks for sharing. All good wishes.
    Cheers,
    John

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    Replies
    1. We have tied up with a couple if processors for now..

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  5. Heyy techie,
    Nice to see a real time agri-entrepreneur.
    To whom will you be providing these leaves?
    I am a farmer as well and i currently have 200 goats(excluding nos. of kids and bucks) and have a nice going 5 acres mango and 3 acres pomegranate orchard.
    Planning to plant 2-3 acres of moringa.
    I wanted to know if I can take both benefits of fruits and flowers at same?
    Where to supply the leaves?
    I am from Beed Maharashtra. If possible add the contact of buyers nearby me.

    P.S. Congrats for your well planned and prepared farm.

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  6. Hi,

    I am also interested in Moringa. I bought PKM 2 seeds from Periyakulam. Want to cultivate under drip irrigation. Want to know the following details from you.

    What is the spacing plant to plant and row to row?

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