1 March 2012 zichtbaarzijn

By Jochem Schneemann, consultant value chain development 

At the request of ICCOs Fair Climate Program, Fair and Sustainable Advisory Services (FSAS) did a desk study on the possibilities of using Moringa seeds for water purification in Ethiopia. While the Moringa seedcake can purify water, Moringa tree plantations will fix carbon and can be a tool in combating climate change. We collected, analyzed and summarized the main information that is available about this multi purpose tree that delivers several very valuable products and services. Through key resource persons in our African network we got hold of relevant and practical information. The concept note by FSAS shows that Moringa is a multi-purpose tree delivering several valuable products and services. Its seeds have great potential in water purification in Ethiopia and other countries. The concept note is useful as a starting point to convince potential investors and stakeholders of the great potential and to further develop a business case on the production and marketing of Moringa seedcake as water coagulant, being a natural alternative to chemicals.

What is Moringa?

Moringa is a fast growing, drought resistant tree that grows in the (sub)tropical zone and has leaves that contain a good number of different vitamins and minerals (Vit A, C, potassium, iron and protein) that are vital to the health of humans and animals. Not only the leaves, but the seeds as well have high nutrition value because they contain excellent edible oil. This oil is also used in the cosmetic industry. The substance that remains after oil extraction – the seedcake – appears to have flocculating properties that can be effectively used in water purification processes, as an sustainable alternative to aluminium sulphate and soda ash. The Moringa sludge is biodegradable and can be used as a natural fertilizer. The use of the leaves is widespread in African countries: leaves are crushed or powdered and mixed in food dishes, with amazing positive effects on malnutrition and health problems. 

Outcomes of the study done by FSAS:

  • research results of pilots are available which show good water purification performance by Moringa seedcake at low cost 
  • tests done in Eritrea and Malawi give positive results for large scale applications
  • research shows promising results of the use of Moringa for domestic water purification in developing countries where people are used to consume contaminated surface water 

It is certainly a challenge to find out why there hasn’t been a break through yet in the Moringa seed production and application. Reasons for this could be that Moringa purified water still carries bacteria, that it is difficult to conserve the Moringa seedcake or that there is a lack of reliable and adequate seedcake supply. More actual research is needed on these aspects and on production and market opportunities.

Moringa chain

Opportunities

Moringa seedcake is a multifunctional, natural and sustainable product with great potential. FSAS is eager to cooperate with interested parties and develop and implement well prepared Moringa water purification pilot projects and to develop the seed supply chain, with the aim to scale up. With its local FSAS office and network in Ethiopia FSAS is in a good position to play a key role in mobilizing interested partners and in preparing and guiding a pilot project in Ethiopia. Such a project can contribute to the objectives of the Dutch WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) Alliance and program in Ethiopia by greatly increasing the availability of clean drinking water for rural populations. Moreover Moringa plantations could fix carbon and generate carbon credits which could finance supply chain investments. Further exploration seems a logic step, and can have multiplier effects if it is done in collaboration with the private sector, State governments, and other actors. FSAS could also play a role in accessing finance in the water sector in the Netherlands.

The report can be downloaded here.

Further information: Jochem Schneemann
E-mail: jochem.schneemann@fairandsustainable.nl
Telephone: +31 (0) 6 835 981 94 

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