The magic tree
Moringa is a tree fully integrated in Konso landscape growing naturally in some lands and also cultivated in terrace fields, gardens and villages.
This native tree of the sub-Himalayas in northwest India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan was brought along the ancient trade routes until South West Africa. This multivitamin tree is found in tropical and subtropical regions all over the world with semiarid and monsoonal climates. It is a plant, which is relatively easy to propagate given its low requirements in terms of nutrients and water and its large climatic tolerance. Additionally its leaves can be harvested at any time once trees are established.
The also named “magic tree” belongs to the family Moringaceae, a single genus with about 14 species, and all varieties contain strong mustard like taste. Ethiopia holds 2 from the 14 species including Moringa Oleifera and Stenopetala, mostly extensively found in many arid areas of the Southern Regions between Arba Minch and Konso on an altitude up to 1800m. Moringa Stenopetala variety is characteristic from Konso Province, a native tree of Southern Ethiopia, North Kenya and Eastern Somalia used as a living hedges and wind breaks to reduce the rate of erosion.
The two species are closely related, it is believed though (after some ethno-botanical experiments mostly based on the traditional indigenous knowledge –IK-) that our moringa Stenopetala may have more properties than its relative.
Konso can be considered as the area where the tree was first domesticated and it provides self-sufficiency in food security to over 500 people/km². Out of this plant a number of products can be made for a variety of purposes, such as tea powder, vegetable oil or as a nutritional supplement. This multiuse vegetable and its high nutrient composition is therefore positioning moringa at the top of healthy, ecological and multivitamin products in western markets.