Growing popularity of Moringa powder could be a boon for Valley farmers

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It's Malunggay for many Filipinos. Munaga for some Indians, but local farmers learned Tuesday it can also be a value-added crop. (KFSN)

Valley farmers are always on the lookout for something new to help them grow their profits.

Moringa is known by different names in different cultures. It's Malunggay for many Filipinos. Munaga for some Indians, but local farmers learned Tuesday it can also be a value-added crop.

The small green leaves picked off Moringa trees are popular in Asian dishes and soups. But other parts like the flowers and seed pods are also used in Indian and African dishes.

Small farm advisor Ruth Dahlquist-Willard figures local farmers can find a niche market with Moringa.

"It has very high nutritional content, especially in the leaves, so a lot of development projects overseas will use it as a powder to add to food to give more vitamins nutrients to people and it's actually grown here in Fresno by some Hmong and Filipino farmers," she said.

Zia Xiong sells out whenever he brings his fresh Moringa crop to farmers markets.

"The fruit you want to cut it and you want to cook for beef, fish, chicken, pork," Xiong said.

But Valley farmers learned there is a growing market in the dried Moringa powder. Stores all over now sell it. Mariko Davis runs a company called Moringa for Life. She told farmers not to grow the crop like a tall tree because the leaves become too hard to reach.

"If you cut this down all the way to the ground, one shoot will become three," she said. "Three shoots will become seven. Seven will become 20."

This session allowed growers to learn how to dry and process their Moringa leaves.

"The farmers are mostly selling it fresh and if they were able to dry the leaves they would have a lot more options where to sell," Dahlquist-Willard said.

Many of the farmers do plan to grow more Moringa though they say the Valley's extreme temperatures pose a big problem.

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