(PRESS RELEASE) – Committed to improving rural livelihood and nutrition through sustainable agricultural development, Hayleys Agriculture the agriculture arm of the leading multinational conglomerate Hayleys PLC, launched the ‘Jeevadhara’ programme to provide one million Moringa (Murunga/Drumstick/Moringa Oleifera) plants to families in Jaffna and neighboring areas of the Northern Province via a network of 100,000 out-growers. ‘Jeevadhara’ intends to enhance farmer incomes and livelihoods while creating a sustainable supply of pods and leaves for domestic consumption and value added exports. The project intends to reach 100,000 households in Jaffna, Killinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Vavuniya providing around 10 plants per household.
The initial batch of one thousand farmers, were given 10,000 Moringa plants at a handing over ceremony at Navatkuli Maha Vidyalayam in Kaithady, Jaffna, in the presence of several key dignitaries of the region.
Considered nature’s gift to human-kind due to its many nutritional properties and traditionally grown in a small scale in Northern Sri Lanka for centuries, Moringa oleifera is catching on as a miracle tree with the leaves and pods classed as ‘super-food’, globally. Gram for gram, Moringa is known to have two times the protein of plain yogurt, four times the calcium of milk, 25 times the iron of spinach, four times the vitamin A of carrots, and seven times the vitamin C of oranges.
Hayleys Agriculture is confident that a farmer could earn an additional income of around LKR 50,000/- per year from 10 mature trees. Moreover, every aspect of the tree from the leaves to the pods can be value added for income generation. With its myriad applications from leaf powder to pod-pressed edible oil, the plant is on an overdrive of popularity, with health authorities having re-discovered its massive nutrition and health benefits.
Hayleys Chairman Mr. Mohan Pandithage said the Jeevadhara programme underscores the Group’s philosophy of continuously engaging and supporting local communities to help improve their lives and livelihoods.
“The agro ecological conditions in the North, where Jeevadhara is being rolled out, is conducive for Moringa cultivation” said Mr. Rizvi Zaheed, Managing Director of Hayleys Agriculture Holdings and so we found a natural fit to have home-owners in and around the Jaffna peninsula to make the cultivation commercially viable for them” he explained.
“Moreover, Moringa can provide an initial harvest in six to eight months. It is fast-growing, drought tolerant and the tree remains evergreen with exceptionally nutritious leaves, pods and roots. From the root of the plant to the leaf, every part is valuable.” added Mr. Zaheed. Hayleys Agriculture will engage with government institutions, university and research agencies and community based organizations to support the Jeevadhara programme.
A national study reported that the prevalence of underweight, stunting and wasting among children aged below 5 years is 23.5%, 13.1% and 19.6% respectively and 18% of the sample was low birth weight babies. Research suggests that, one tablespoon of the Moringa oleifera leaf powder provides 14 percent of the protein, 40 percent of the calcium, 23 percent of the iron and most of the vitamins, children aged one to three require. Six tablespoons of leaf powder is considered to provide most of a woman’s daily iron and calcium needs during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Jeevadhara by Hayleys Agriculture will allow the out-grower farmers to capture the economic and nutritional value of this remarkable plant making it an opportunity for livelihood enhancement.