The Moringa Farmers and Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MFAN), says it plans to engage over 300,000 youths in moringa farming as part of its efforts to tackle unemployment in the country.
MFAN President, Mr Michael Ashimashiga made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN), in Abuja on Sunday.
Ashimashiga said that modalities have been set for engaging 500 youths per each of the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the country, to cultivate and sell moringa plant in view of its high demand, both locally and internationally.
Moringa oleifera is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree of the family”Moringaceae”. ”It is commonly known as drumstick tree and used as vegetable, among other things,” he said.
Ashimashiga noted that the project would be launched on a 10, 000 hectares of land in Nasarawa state, in a couple of few weeks.
According to him, each of the beneficiaries will be given a plot of land and moringa seeds at no cost, to cultivate.
He noted that after the launch, LGA coordinators of the project, would engage 500 youths each.
On having buyers for the plant, the president said, there was a ready market to absorb each farmer’s yield, adding that the association would buy the plant from the farmers.
“The development of the country depends largely on agriculture and Moringa is one plant that does not only have health benefits, but economically viable.
“Moringa is very useful in high quality poultry yield among others. The economic benefits also cannot be over-emphasised.
“There was a Moringa summit in 2008 organised by the Raw Materials Research and Development Council, but since then we have not heard anything.
“At the summit there were several presentations including some, which projected that the federal government can generate over N500billion revenue annually. I still have most of the presentations with me.
“Nigeria’s Moringa is one of the best in the whole world, unfortunately it is not on the list of agricultural products.
“We will keep clamouring for it to be included, to help solve the problem of unemployment,” he said.
He added:” We are going into a N9 billion moringa trees plantation in all the 774 LGAs across the country, and in the first phase of the project, we are engaging 500 youths, per LGA to cultivate it.”
Ashimashiga allayed fears that the project was a bogus one that might not be achieved.
“It can be achieved because we already have buyers on ground from within and outside the country.
“We have had demands to supply over 10,000 metric tonnes of moringa at a point, but because moringa has not been fully embraced at commercial level, we could not meet up the demand.
“That was what formed the basis for this project. Local animal feed mills, also want supply of moringa.
“So we felt, in order to use it as an avenue to give jobs to unemployed youths across the country, we can engage them in farming the plant, while they make money from it.
“They will cultivate the plant and the national body will absorb it from them.
” We will give them the plant, the plot of land to cultivate, all for free and from our projection.
“At harvest each of the farmers will make at least N30,000 per month and for life, because the tree can produce for as long as it is being nurtured.
“If we are able to achieve this we would have moved several youths that would have taken to crime out of the street, ” he said.
He further noted that research has shown that Moringa has several benefits while several products including tea and oil could be extracted from it leaves.
“It is a tree you can harvest after four months and every month thereafter, for a lifetime and after seven months, the seed is ready for harvest.”
Ashimashiga said a proposal on the project had been submitted to the office of the Vice President.