Update: Guide to planting Moringa tree found here.
Department of Agriculture-Biotechnology Program Office in Marawi City has setup a system to develop the Moringa plant’s seed (scientific name: Moringa Oleifera) for use as feedstock in the production of biofuels. In the Philippines the Moringa plant is more commonly known as “Malunggay” or “Malungai”.
The Moringa Oil Manufacturing Plant of Secura in Marawi meanwhile is intending to use the oil harvested from the moringa seeds to produce biodiesel which they are then planning to export to the United States. The plant is expecting to produce 150 million gallons of malunggay seed oil per year. Initial capacity of the feedstock plantation is 30,000 hectares by this year then eventually going up to 100,000 hectares. [source]
Early this year some graduate students from MIT arrived in the Philippines to study the potential of using the Malunggay plant as a feedstock for the production of biofuels. Specifically they went to Secura to research their find. (Malunggay powerpoint here)
According to the grad students, Malunggay Oil processed as biodiesel has the following properties:
- Iodine number better than that of regular diesel, indicating fuel stability.
- a cetane number indicating good ignition behavior.
- a cold filter plugging point indicating suitability even in winter.
According to the students, with the data they got from Secura, they are projecting the following income schemes for farmers:
For a 10-ha malunggay farm, a farmer could earn P2 million during the first year, P3 million in the next three years, and P4 million in the next four years. In addition, the meal, or sapal, of malunggay seeds may be used as livestock feed.
The Malunggay plant has traditionally been used by lactating mothers as a supplement to induce increased milk production. Previously the leaves were prepared as a soup but now Malunggay pills are commercially available. It was also recently discovered that the Malunggay can be used to increase sperm production in infertile men. It is also being used as fencing material in the country side. Its said that its roots can be used to treat snake bites. More complete usage of the plant can be found here.
According to a Bureau of Plant Industry study:
(Moringa) has seven times the vitamin C in oranges, four times the calcium in milk, four times the vitamin A in carrots, twice the protein in milk, and three times the potassium in bananas
Malungai/Malunggay is planted throughout the Philippines in settled areas at low and medium altitudes… The plant is a small tree, 8 meters or less in height, with corky bark and soft, white wood. The leaves are alternate, usually thrice pinnate, and 25 to 50 centimeters long. There are three to nine leaflets on the ultimate pinnules. These leaflets are thin, ovate to elliptic and 1 to 2 centimeters long. The flowers are white and 1.5 to 2 centimeters long, on spreading panicles. The pod is 15 to 30 centimeters long, pendulous, three-angled and nine ribbed. The seeds are three-angled, and winged on the angles.[source]
Looks like jatropha has found a competitor as the premier feedstock for biodiesel production. Although Moringa is being consumed by humans, compared to palm oil and coconut, its demand is not as great. It is said that moringa is similar to jatropha because it can grow voraciously in marginal land. To prove how hardy the plant is, I once chopped of the Moringa plant in my back yard right down to its stump. A few weeks later I was surprised that it had quicky developed branches and developed full leaves already.
Off the top of my head, which means just doing a shallow comparison of jatropha and moringa. Moringa could prove to be better in terms of maximizing what we can get out of the plant. This is shown by the number of medicinal benefits and uses that Moringa has over jatropha.
SECURA Plant Genetics Corp.
Mr. Danilo Manayaga
Unit 707, Cityland Shaw Tower
Shaw Blvd. cor. St. Francis St.
Mandaluyong City, Philippines
Tels.: (632) 637-4982, (632) 910-1223
Fax No.: (632) 284-0620 (632) 637-4983
E-mail: secura[at]nxdsl.com.ph, secura[at]pacific.net.ph