Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU) Multan's agriculturists have launched a research project on moringa, also called a 'miracle plant'.
The Rs 14 million two-year research project titled 'MLE-30: A Miracle Biostimulant' has been approved by the Higher education Commission (HEC) and a sum of Rs 10 million has been released, said agronomy department's associate professor of BZU Multan Dr Azra, who will oversee the research project.
Prof Dr Nazim Hussain Labar of agronomy department would supervise the project. Health websites identify Moringa as a miracle tree, drumstick tree, horseradish tree or ben oil tree.
Nutritionists and researchers said Moringa was rich in healthy antioxidants and bioactive plant compounds, is very nutritious and western countries sell it as dietary supplements either in powder or capsule form. It lowers blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and protect against arsenic toxicity.
However, the BZU research project focuses on the agriculture/crop related benefits of Moringa in the first phase. Dr Azra told APP that Moringa, locally known as 'Sohanjna' and is available in South Punjab, can be grown even in adverse weather conditions like less water and higher temperatures.
"Its a treasure of minerals and Vitamins," she said adding a growth hormone called Cytokinin is found in it in some other form which helps every living being grow and have improved immunity. Keeping in mind this trait, BZU researchers prepared Moringa solution and hand it over to their industrial partner who sprayed it on crops and registered 10 per cent increase in production. However, its spray by researchers on crops registered 30 per cent increase, Dr Azra added.
Hexon Chemicals is the industrial partner of BZU in the research project, she said adding that according to HEC conditions a research project must have an industrial partner.
The industrial partner would be responsible to get the research-based product registered, its labelling, marketing and supply. The product so developed would have the name of Bahauddin Zakariya University printed on it.
She said that they were now busy in finalizing agreements with farmers to get tons of Moringa leaves from them. A big spacious hall would be built for installation of machine to prepare juice from Moringa leaves and hand it over to industrial partner.
The waste thus left would be utilized to prepare fertilizers, she added. The Moringa juice gives strength to plants and improve their immunity against diseases, Azra said. Its spray would either reduce cost of farmers on application of other sprays to zero or significantly low.
She said that a professor of agronomy department from Agriculture University Faisalabad, Dr. Shahzad Maqsood Ahmad Basra, had conducted research on Moringa benefits for human health and prepared Green Wheat Flour which he titled as 'Virsa' and its use can be beneficial in joint pains, diabetes and its consumption does not make people fat.
Professor Shahzad said that people can run like youngsters at the age of 50-60 by making a few Moringa leaves part of their daily diet plan.
Dr. Azra said that their next research destination would be the benefits of Moringa juice, extract, leaf, fruit, and flower powder on human health and to prepare products.
She hoped this research would invite attention from industry in a big way and they would require comparatively lesser financial support from the government.
By Mohammad Ali