The distribution of the yields of 500,000 moringa oleifera (a kind of drumsticks) plants among people under the Divi Neguma National Program has proved a major success.
Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa recently examined the yields of this short murunga plant which President Mahinda Rajapaksa planted at the Finance and Planning Ministry (Treasury premises) in late 2012.
Moringa oleifera which can be harvested within six months was distributed nearly among one million people island wide by Economic Development Ministry, under its Divi Neguma national program to meet the Governmentís objective of encouraging the people to lead healthy lives by consuming nutritious food free of harmful chemicals.
This crop also known as miti murunga has become popular because it is easy to grow and easy to sustain. Introduced to Sri Lanka from South India 13 years ago, it can be grown in tropical climates and is a favourite food of people in the Middle-East which has become the main market for this crop grown in Sri Lanka.
Although this plant grows easily in the islandís dry zone, it can also be easily grown in all areas of the low country from Jaffna to Hambantota, according to Agricultural Radio Service acting Director Hiran Peiris.
According to him it is best to grow it in areas where water flows rather than in places where water gets collected. The plant yields throughout the year and contains many nutrients the body need for healthy growth, he said.
Among them are vitamins A, B and C, potassium, carbohydrates, calcium, phosperous, sodium, iron and magnesium, all of which are found in the leaves and pods of the murunga plant, which the Economic Development Ministry hopes to popularize throughout the island.