Moringa: an ancient crop finds a new home in the Pomeroon

The Pomeroon embodies a paradise to grow coconuts but this is not the only crop that thrives in our estate. As part of a series of data-driven trials, we are experimenting with new crops such as moringa oleifera.

Moringa trees growing in the Pomeroon and moringa nursery

Central to our philosophy is intercropping. This is a core agronomic principle: it helps replenish soil nutrients, controls unwanted weeds, minimizes soil erosion, and increases both soil fertility and oxygen content. Moreover, it has an important role to play in farm economics; by growing valuable fruits and spices we generate additional revenue sources.

Moringa is considered one of the most nutrition-rich plants in the world. Tracing its origins to India, moringa has gained fans around the world, as consumers concerned about maintaining a healthy lifestyle are going wild for this superfood. According to scientists from the University of California, Davis, “If there were a top 10 list of plants that are going to help feed the world over the next hundred years, moringa should be on that list”.

Moringa is an efficient crop to grow and market. You use every part of the plant including the leaves, pods, seeds, and flowers. It is also grown year-round and can fill in otherwise unoccupied areas of land on a commercial farm.

In 2015 more than 80% of Moringa was grown in Asia but this is now changing as the Caribbean and South America catch up. The increasing demand from nutraceuticals and food and beverages companies worldwide is pushing the region to grow its moringa production at a faster pace. Countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Trinidad and St. Lucia are pulling ahead. Even North America, where competition from higher-value crops is strong, is growing moringa: small farmers are planting out swathes of the Coachella valley and even Hawaii.

Driven by the health-foods sector, the moringa market is expected to reach $7 billion by 2020 (from $4 billion in 2015) and a CAGR of 10% for the 2018-2022 period. At the time, parallel industries are taking notice: even the animal feed market is looking to moringa as an affordable substitute to other food sources that are under pressure.  

Since 2018 Pomeroon has conducted data-driven trials with different varieties of moringa - or as it’s known locally, saijan. We plant lines of moringa trees amongst the coconut trees, making use of all available space. The pods are used in local cuisine; the leaves are dried outdoors under the sun before being powdered for export market; the oil from the kernel is used as a food supplement.  

To make this one of Guyana’s main exports will require significant investment in processing. To this end, Pomeroon is currently designing a multi-purpose spice and dried fruit facility that will process crops from our estate and local smallholder farmers.

Sun-dried moringa leaves and moringa pods