West African 'miracle tree' offers nutritional benefits
12/4/2003 News media contact: Linda Green · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn
By Nancye Willis*DAKAR,
Senegal (UMNS) - An ecumenical relief agency is cultivating a West
African "miracle tree" that could be a nutritional dream come true in
nations devastated by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, widespread poverty and
Pioneering research by Church World
Service, the relief ministry of the U.S. National Council of Churches,
in cooperation with the Senegalese organization Alternative Action for
African Development, has documented the moringa tree's value as a local,
sustainable solution to malnutrition, especially among infants,
children and mothers.
In Africa, a continent particularly hard
hit by HIV/AIDS, the organization has planted a million of the
fast-growing, drought-resistant trees, which have the potential of
building immune systems, an important consideration in treating AIDS.
Fuglie and his wife, Caroline, help tend the patch on what was once an
arid patch of land north of Dakar. Fuglie's work as head of Church World
Service's West Africa regional office involves promoting the use of the
moringa's edible leaves and pods, which have twice the calcium as milk,
as a nutritional supplement for Senegalese.
The moringa tree,
also rich in iron and potassium, flourishes in tropical settings, and
produces so many useful vitamins that many call it "the miracle tree."
With four times the amount of vitamin A in carrots, the moringa helps
prevent blindness, Fuglie says. "In the Third World, there are hundreds -
thousands - of people who go blind every year for lack of vitamin A."
leaves, leaf powder, pods, seeds, flowers, roots and bark of the
drought-resistant moringa are edible, even palatable. Parts of the tree
can also be used for animal feed, domestic cleansers, perfume, dye,
fertilizer, medicine, water clarification, rope fiber, and as an agent
for tanning hides. "It is miraculous that one single tree can offer so
many uses for people," Fuglie says.
The moringa tree comes into
full leaf at the end of the dry season, precisely when other foods are
the scarcest. Moringa leaf powder conserves well, is easy to use in many
recipes and helps purify contaminated water by settling the particulate
As a result of the agency's pioneering moringa
research, the government of Senegal is promoting moringa as part of the
national diet. Health workers and representatives of other community and
local non-governmental organizations in areas of the most severe
malnutrition are being trained in its benefits.
has promoted similar projects in Burkina Faso, Gambia, Guinea Bissau,
Mali and Niger, where mothers, children, and other members of various
communities are benefiting from eating the leaves, seeds and pods of the
Church World Service is supported by 36 U.S.
denominations, including the United Methodist Church, and it works in
partnership with indigenous organizations in more than 80 countries
The United Methodist Church has been responding to
the AIDS crisis since the early 1980s through its Board of Global
Ministries and other church programs. The HIV/AIDS Ministries Network,
related to Global Ministries' Health and Welfare Ministries unit, is a
network of United Methodists and others who care about the global
HIV/AIDS pandemic and those whose lives have been touched.
information on United Methodist work in HIV/AIDS is available at Global
Ministries' Web site, http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor. Donations to support
"Global HIV/AIDS Program Development," UMCOR Advance No. 982345, or
"AIDS Orphan Trust," UMCOR Advance No. 982842 can be made through local
United Methodist congregations, at http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor or by
calling (800) 554-8583.
More information on Church World Service
may be found at the organization's Web site
http://www.churchworldservice.org, and on the moringa tree project at
# # #
*Willis is a staff member of United Methodist Communications.
Back : News Archives 2003 Main
“We believe in God and in each other.”The people of The United Methodist Church
Still Have Questions?
If you have any questions Ask
Purchase a $20 buzzkill t-shirt and help save a life
Buy a t-shirt