Moringa: On track for an export surge?
Due to growing recognition of the health benefits of the Moringa plant, India stands to gain significantly as the largest exporter of the product. Exporters must actively ensure compliance to standards and explore value addition opportunities.
- Moringa is indigenous to the Indian sub-continent. It has 13 species growing in tropical and sub-tropical regions.
- It has a high nutritional advantage and can be used to treat multiple ailments like stomach disorders, skin diseases, respiratory problems, blood pressure, etc.
- Due to the rise in awareness about Moringa’s nutritional values, it has been in great demand in many countries such as the US, Germany, China, Canada, South Korea, and other European countries.
- With more investment and support by the government and APEDA, India has the potential to increase its production and exports in various products made out of Moringa.
Moringa is a green leafy fast-growing deciduous plant, native to the Indian subcontinent. The name has been derived from the Tamil word Murungai, which means drumstick. The “superfood” has been used for centuries due to its nutritive and medicinal properties along with the health benefits that it provides. Owing to the growing awareness about its numerous health benefits, 13 species of Moringa are growing in other tropical and sub-tropical regions such as Africa, Asia, islands in the Pacific and the Caribbean, and South America.
Interestingly, all parts are edible; leaves, bark, flowers, seeds, fruits, and even the roots which comprise various vitamins and minerals. Moringa helps to relieve deficiencies of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, maintain blood sugar levels, protect and nourish skin and hair, treat ailments like anemia and respiratory problems.
Moringa also helps to prevent the formation of stones in the kidney, gall bladder or uterus, has anti-cancer agents and so on. It can also improve the immune system, which has become a need of these hour dur to COVID-19. In addition to these medicinal properties, moringa can also be used to purify water and help in weight loss.
A growing international sensation
Moringa has been in great demand in many countries. The major countries that import moringa leaves and seeds are the US, Germany, China, Canada, South Korea, and other European countries (especially the UK, Italy, France, the Netherlands, & Spain). The global moringa product market size in 2018 was US$ 5.5 billion which is expected to cross US$ 10 billion in the year 2025.
India has managed to hold a dominant position in the moringa market for exports. It accounts for 80% of the total production of moringa leaves, fetching crores of foreign exchange for the country. This is attributed to the fact that for smaller suppliers, it will be very difficult to compete on price and the standardization of moringa leaf powder as provided by Indian companies.
With an annual growth rate of 26-30%, states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Odisha are the major players in the exports of moringa leaves. The main markets for dietary supplements are the US, followed by Western Europe and Japan, where the affluent middle class have incorporated it in their diet.
Apart from the leaves, Moringa seeds and oil are in great demand in the overseas market. Moringa oil can be used as a bio-fuel. Moringa trees are grown in about 1 lakh acres of land, out of which Tamil Nadu accounts for 5,000 acres in the Theni district.
India commenced exports of Moringa powder on 29th December 2020, as per the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. Two tonnes of organic certified Moringa powder was exported to the US through an air consignment with the support of APEDA. The Association has been facilitating the budding exporters in establishing the necessary infrastructure to increase the Moringa exports.
Time to ride on the wave
Moringa is one of the most nutritionally dense plants in the world and is used for various purposes. More and more people should be aware of its existence and the nutrients of this wonder tree must be exploited for various purposes around the world. India’s climatic conditions are suitable for the cultivation of Moringa due to which India holds a dominant position in its export market. The government is doing its bit to support the farmers.
For example, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development provides subsidies to farmers, while the government of Tamil Nadu state is providing subsidies to farmers to promote the cultivation of this herb. With more investment and support by the government and its agencies, India has the potential to increase its production and exports in various products made out of Moringa. It must also address issues like lack of access to good-quality seeds, mechanisation, marketing channels, capital and storage facilities and climate change.
At the same time, the industry must do its bit to make sure that it makes the most out of moringa exports. For this, it must ensure that the product is of international quality. For example, in order to export moringa to Europe, they must make sure that the product has the following features: hygiene, traceability, Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for pesticides and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and so forth. Value addition opportunities must also be explored like making tea, oil, energy bars and tablets from moringa to enhance realisation from exports.