Farm visit to understand current practices of moringa plantations in Malaysia

Fadhil Razi, Agronomist, shares his insight after visiting a moringa (Moringa oleifera) farm in Chemomoi, Malaysia to understand and get familiarised with the current state of moringa plantations in Malaysia. The visit was also to identify areas of study that can be further explored to improve the cultivation of moringa at Crops For the Future. 

On August 14, as part of our ongoing research on moringa from farm to table, Crops For the Future (CFF) met up with the Spectrum of Life Integrative Wellness Centre (SOL) team at Upayapadu Plantantion Sdn Bhd located in Chemomoi, Malaysia – approximately 3 hours from Kuala Lumpur – to visit their moringa farm. 

SOL has chosen to sell moringa products as a new marketing niche for their business after realising its potential – thus their initiative to grow and harvest moringa from their own farm. The visit was interesting as we got to see the commercialisation aspect of moringa, particularly as they outsource for postharvest processing.
Group photo of the members visiting the farm (From left: Foong Pak Chuen, Hilda, Advina, Tony Wong, Ooi Gin Teng, and myself)
We met with the Director of SOL, Mr. Tony Wong, along with his colleagues Mr. Alvin and Mr. Lau who shared experiences on the moringa cultivation methods that they have adopted in their farm. Generally, there are several ways of cultivating moringa depending on one’s objective. For SOL, they are utilising the leaves, pods, and seeds to make products. Therefore, some of the plants are pruned regularly to harvest the leaves, whilst some are left to grow so that the plants can flower and bear fruits. Aside from that, we also shared knowledge and experiences on the different methods of planting, crop establishment and maintenance, and postharvest processing. 

Moringa, also known as the ‘drumstick tree’, is native to the southern foothills of the Himalayas in northwestern India, and widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical areas. It is a highly nutritious and drought-tolerant crop in which all parts of the tree – from its bark to its flowers – are edible. 

When we arrived at the farm, we were greeted with an abundant of moringa trees. While there are other crops planted here, the moringa trees make up for an astounding 70 acres of the land, which they are looking to expand more in the future. 
Some of the moringa trees planted in the farm. They also have experimental plots for agronomic studies of moringa.
'Moringa house' and bench where the stripping of the leaves is conducted.
 
The farm has a designated ‘moringa house’ where harvested moringa are brought to for stripping of the leaves from the main branch. This is done in a timely manner, before the leaves get delivered to a manufacturer in an air-conditioned van for further postharvest processing – which includes drying, grinding and packaging into final products (capsules and tea). It was very fascinating to see how strict and fast they must work as the postharvest process is conducted elsewhere. At CFF, moringa is harvested at our Field Research Centre, located approximately five minutes away from our headquarters. It is then brought to our laboratory at our HQ for postharvest processing, and turned into food products in the Food Development Lab – all conducted under one roof / dome. 
 
This was my first time visiting a big moringa plantation and it was interesting to see how others cultivate their moringa trees. We hope to continue talks with SOL on future collaborations and shared interests on moringa.