Here's a short compilation of articles about Fidel Castro's proposal to cultivate Moringa and Mulberry as sources of healthy food and employment in Cuba. Quite interesting, although for most people in the U.S. I'd question the need for so much iron, which may actually feed hypothyroid (hashimoto's) and other illnesses. But perhaps that's balanced out by other nutrients in the the composite plant, I don't know (but it's worth checking out).

- Mitchel Cohen

Posted on Sunday June 17, 2012

Google translation, revised.

Former Cuban President Fidel Castro today proposed the mass cultivation of "Moringa oleifera" and mulberry trees as alternatives for healthy food and employment, in another small article of his series "Reflections" published today by Cuban newspapers.

"The conditions exist in this country to begin mass producing Moringa and Morera, which provide more nutrients than meat, eggs and milk, (and) Silk fibers spun by hand," Castro wrote in the text reported in the official website Cubadebate.

In this new "miniartículo", Fidel Castro adds that these plants "are able to provide work in the shade that would be well-paid, regardless of age and sex."

The leader of the Cuban revolution, who in August will turn 86 years, continues writing his "Reflections" in the new format characterized by brevity with barely a paragraph of text, disseminated daily on various topics.

Fidel Castro on Saturday published another short "Reflection" dedicated to remembering the Argentine-Cuban guerrilla Ernesto Che Guevara through the verse of Cuba's national poet Nicolas Guillen (1902-1989).

The former president retired from office in 2006, when a severe illness forced him to delegate his responsibilities to his brother Raul, who formally assumed the presidency of Cuba in 2008.

Moringa Leaves Saving Lives in DRC
By Anselme Nkinsi

KINSHASA, Jun 14 2012 (IPS) - Seated under a tree, biologist Zozo Bazomba welcomes a steady stream of visitors to the Action Nature et Médecine centre in Bumbu commune in the DRC. Suffering from a range of ailments, they have come from across Kinshasa, the capital, in search of sachets of powdered moringa leaves.

Action Nature et Médecine (ANAMED) is a non-governmental organisation leading an effort to promote the health benefits of the leaves and seeds of the Moringa olifeira tree in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The NGO has a ten-hectare plantation of the trees at Mingadi, in the western province of Bas-Congo.

Jean-Baulin Mbo, 68, who suffered a stroke, said that regular consumption of moringa leaves is what is keeping him alive. "I've made a habit of eating moringa since I discovered this plant. I often have the powder with tea, in porridge, in milk or in a soft drink," he told IPS. Others who have come looking for moringa are suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure or poor nutrition.

Elsewhere in the neighbourhood, at the Libondi Health Centre's nutrition unit, Eric Kiambi marveled at the results he's seeing using moringa with malnourished children. "Before, we struggled with having too many children to care for while waiting for soy milk from our (donor) partners. But now, with moringa, the centre shelters around 20 malnourished kids," the nutritionist told IPS.

"Moringa's become a staple in a fair number of households," said another worker at the centre, Vénantie Wabo. "It's an alternative in cases of micronutrient deficits. With nothing more than powdered moringa, one can quickly restore the health of a child suffering from even acute malnutrition."

Anne Biyela brought her eight-year-old grandson Nkanza to the centre for care.

"When we arrived here, my grandson had swollen feet (a warning sign of kwashiorkor, a severe protein deficiency in children).  Many people thought he wouldn't survive a week. But a daily helping of porridge with moringa powder has really helped him, and now he's doing well," she said.

"The centre encouraged us to use the leaves of this plant as a vegetable in all our meals to maintain the health of the whole family."

Clotilde Kasowa, a Franciscan missionary who runs an orphanage in the Kinshasa commune of Kintambo, told IPS that none of the children presently in her care suffer from anaemia, thanks to moringa supplements. "They get moringa leaves added to their pondu (a popular Congolese dish of cassava leaves) and the powder in their milk and tea," she said.

"It's much better than soy, and we also sell moringa powder. A 75 gramme sachet costs 2,500 Congolese francs (around 2.5 dollars)."

Huguette Ifoto, the head of the kitchen at the orphanage, said they had been caring for nearly 70 malnourished orphans, but only 27 remained after the others got better from eating moringa leaves.

Moringa is also playing a role in protecting the health of people living with HIV. Marie Tsimba's HIV-positive son was acutely malnourished. "My friends advised me to put some moringa in all of his meals. And 45 days later the results have been excellent, and my son is doing well," she said.

Jean Lukela, coordinator of a national network of community organisations and support groups for people living with HIV/AIDS, says similar stories are common. "Moringa is a good complement for anti-retroviral medicine. When these drugs were not yet available, we advised people to eat moringa seeds to reinforce their immunity," he said.

"In fact, we still tell people living with the virus the same thing."

AFRICA: Miracle Tree is Like a Supermarket
By Kristin Palitza Republish

CAPE TOWN, Jan 25 2012 (IPS) - When a food crisis hits the continent, African countries tend to look to the international donor community to mobilise aid. But a fast-growing, drought- resistant tree with extremely nutritious leaves could help poor, arid nations to fight food insecurity and malnutrition on their own.

A Moringa tree in fruit, near Sprokieswoud in Namiba. Moringa leaves are dubbed a "super food". Credit: Hans Hillewaert/Wikkicommons

A Moringa tree in fruit, near Sprokieswoud in Namiba. Moringa leaves are dubbed a "super food". Credit: Hans Hillewaert/Wikkicommons

A 15-hectare plantation of the "miracle tree" with the botanical name Moringa oleifera has already started to make a positive change in the rural village of Tooseng, which is located in one of South Africa's poorest provinces, Limpopo.

Moringa leaves are dubbed a "super food" because scientists found that they contain the calcium equivalent of four glasses of milk, the vitamin C content of seven oranges, the potassium of three bananas, three times the amount of iron found in spinach, four times the amount of vitamin A found in a carrot and twice the amount of protein in milk. It is like a supermarket on a tree.

Mavis Mathabatha, a former school teacher from Tooseng, has been working hard to set up a Moringa farm over the past three years that will produce enough leaves to make a positive difference in her community and further afield. "I want to make an impact in my area, province and across the country through this project," she explains.

In 2009, she started harvesting, drying und grinding Moringa leaves from the first few trees she had planted, to sprinkle them on the meals provided to about 400 poor children at the local Sedikong sa Lerato (meaning "Circle of Love" in Sesotho) drop-in centre.

The centre feeds children from households with a combined income of less than 250 dollars a month, which includes practically all boys and girls in Tooseng, a community suffering from high rates of unemployment, poverty, food insecurity and low diet-diversity, malnutrition and HIV-infection.

"The results were visible almost immediately. The health of the children improved in a short period of time," says Elizabeth Serogole, the drop-in centre's manager who works closely with Mathabatha. She says many children had been showing signs of malnutrition, like open sores on their skins, which started to heal soon after the children regularly ate the leaves.

Supplementing their meals with Moringa also notably increased children's ability to ward off new illness and infection and boosted their mental development, Serogole adds: "Most can now better concentrate at school." All it needed was one teaspoon of leaf powder a day.

Dr. Samson Tesfay, a postdoctoral scholar at the South African University of KwaZulu-Natal's Horticultural Science Department, confirms that Moringa is truly a multi-purpose wonder.

"The Moringa plant is unique in that every part can be utilised for beneficial purposes. It has medicinal, therapeutic, nutritive and practical uses. It is extremely effective in combating malnutrition," says Tesfay. In addition, Moringa's immature pods were full of essential amino acids.

Moringa leaves can also be used for medicinal purposes, to treat skin infections, lower blood pressure and blood sugar, reduce swelling, heal gastric ulcers and to calm the nervous system, Tesfay further explains. The plant, which is native to northern India, has been used in Ayurveda medicine for centuries and is said to prevent 300 diseases.

Moreover, the seeds of the tree can be used to purify water in rural areas where access to clean drinking water is difficult and often a cause for disease. "The seeds are effective in removing about 98 percent of impurities and microbes from contaminated water," says Tesfay.

The slender tree with drooping branches is non-invasive, needs little water and grows fast, reaching a height of three metres within a year. It even grows steadily in Tooseng, in South Africa's northeast, an arid region that has been suffering from repeated lack of rainfall in recent years.

"The tree can survive in relatively unfavourable conditions and does not require sophisticated and expensive farming methods or inputs," explains Tesfay.

Moringa could thus indeed become a widely used hunger prevention method, food experts say, as it can grow in all of the world's subtropical areas, where droughts and malnutrition are prevalent ­ in most parts of Africa, Central and South America, the Middle East and South-East Asia.

Since 2009, Mathabatha has built up her Moringa plantation little by little. After she heard about the multiple benefits of the tree, she applied for a grant from regional funding agency Southern Africa Trust, which help her to set up her own plantation. Today, she is the proud owner of 13,000 Moringa trees.

But Mathabatha did not stop here. She wanted to share her discovery of Moringa's nutritious benefits with others and has therefore distributed more than 6,000 Moringa seedlings to poor families in various communities around Tooseng, together with a nutrition education campaign.

"Planting and distributing Moringa is a holistic approach to deal with the problem of food insecurity," Ashley Green-Thompson, who managed the project grant, explains why the SAT decided to finance the project. "The level of household food insecurity is one of the key indicators of poverty, and it's very high in this region."

Today, Mathabatha's farm produces and packages up to 10,000 tonnes a year of Moringa leaf powder, which is distributed not only within South Africa, but also exported to Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho. "I am hoping to further extend my market in the next few years. There is a lot of interest in my product," Mathabatha says.

But it is the urge to help much more than the desire to make money that motivates Mathabatha to expand her business. At the cost 60 cents per 40 grams of leaf powder ­ which lasts one person for about a month ­ the 52-year-old business woman puts affordability clearly before profits.

("The Engineer also experiments with vegetables, fruits and grains. He
recently started growing Caribbean melon, Honduran guava and he has
already 1,000 seedlings from a bush called Moringa, known for its
nutritional properties.")

Farm in Ciego de Avila Certified as Area for National Research
Radio Rebelde - Aug. 3, 2011


HAVANA, Cuba.- The National Group for Urban and Suburban Agriculture
recognized a farm in the central province of Ciego de Avila as the
first Cuban research farm.

The farm, named La Provechosa, is owned by Agricultural Engineer
Ariel Gonzalez Molerio, who is a member of the Jose Marti Credit and
Services Cooperative.

"The certificate is an acknowledgement and at the same time means a
commitment to continue working to achieve high yields and prevent
plagues from invading the crops," Gonzalez Molerio said.

Agricultural specialist Sonia Sanchez Carvajal said Gonzalez Molerio
planted this year a record of 79 varieties of beans to check which of
them were more productive and more resistant to plagues.

As a result of his study, the Engineer turned in 50 tons of pure
seeds of various types of beans including peas, kidney (red and
white), red and pinto beans so that other agricultural workers could
expand his experience in growing the crop, which is one of the most
expensive foodstuffs in the international market.

With the support of the National Group for Urban and Suburban
Agriculture,and of the University of Ciego de Avila, Gonzalez Molerio
became the first agricultural worker to produce cabbage seeds.

"He also holds the national record of producing 203 tons of papaya
and a yield of 3.15 tons of beans per hectare," said Cooperative's
president Hiran Aliste.

Gonzalez Molerio's farm is a provincial agricultural area of 10.80
hectares used for the improvement and preservation of soils. This
year, 55 tons of compost (a mixture of decayed plant matter and
manure) and 11 tons of worm humus were spread on the land as

The Engineer also experiments with vegetables, fruits and grains. He
recently started growing Caribbean melon, Honduran guava and he has
already 1,000 seedlings from a bush called Moringa, known for its
nutritional properties.


(New Yorkers were thrilled by the organic farms scattered around the capital. On a trip to buy supplies on Monday, Marco Canora, owner of the East Village restaurant Hearth, and Mr. Valle chewed on moringa leaves at an organic farm in Alamar, on the outskirts of Havana, and admired a trough seething with Californian red worms, which are used to produce compost.)

May 17, 2012
A Bridge-Building, Cross-Cultural Art Project That's Also Delicious

HAVANA — It was at some point between the guava maki and the grilled sailfish with yuzu that Robert T. Coffland, an American art dealer who is normally reserved by nature, stood up and took off his shirt.

Mr. Coffland had complimented his fellow diner, Renny Arozarena, on his floral-print top. Without hesitation, Mr. Arozarena, a Cuban actor, unbuttoned it and handed it to Mr. Coffland. The quiet American reciprocated.

"It was a magical moment of letting go," said Mr. Coffland, who has a gallery that deals in traditional textiles in Santa Fe, N.M. "I hadn't even had that much to drink."

Such bursts of camaraderie were what Craig Shillitto, an architect and a restaurant designer, had in mind when he devised Project Paladar, a 10-day collaboration that pairs 10 chefs, most based in New York, with 10 Cuban chefs in a restaurant built for the event from shipping containers.

Each night, one pair cooks for a mixed group of Cubans and foreigners, mostly American, who sit at long, rough wooden tables. The event, which ends on Sunday, forms part of the 11th Havana Biennial, which began last Friday and runs for a month.

"We wanted people to be able to meet Cubans and eat with them, rather than just see them on the other side of a service counter," Mr. Shillitto said. "I think some of the relationships that have been created here are going to endure for a long time."

The project is named for the small, privately owned restaurants, called paladars, that have sprouted up around the country, especially since the government opened more space for private enterprise 18 months ago. Financing and supplies for the event came from private donors, Mr. Shillitto said; the organizers charged some of the foreign guests $250 each to help cover expenses, like the chefs' travel costs.

The organizers made a point of seating Cubans, who could eat free, alongside visiting diners and said they had invited Cubans of all stripes, from museum curators to the welders who helped build the restaurant.

In a country where many rely on food rations to help get them through the month and the diet produced by state-run farms is a monotony of tubers and beans, the Cuban diners were impressed, puzzled and delighted by turns.

"This is exquisite," said José Pablo Carrasco, a guitar player who was tucking into the sailfish cooked by Anita Lo, owner of Annisa in New York. "We are not used to eating like this here."

"I liked that round thing, too," he added.

The sushi? "The Chinese thing."

Japanese. "Whatever," he said. "It was delicious."

The buzz about the gastronomic encounter apparently was not lost on the political elite. On Wednesday, Ricardo Alarcón, president of the National Assembly, and Nilsa Castro Espín, one of President Raúl Castro's daughters, turned up for a dinner of braised rabbit with white wine and rosemary and Nesquik panna cotta with cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla and pine nuts.

While forging bonds between diners might have been easy, producing world-class food in Havana was not. Chefs brought their own spices, oils, cheeses and knives from America, but some were stunned to discover how hard it is in Cuba to get ingredients and kitchen supplies they consider basic.

"It's impossible," declared Eduardo Valle, sous-chef at Del Posto in New York, who deemed the pork in the markets so unpleasant he steered other chefs away from it.

Early in his stay, he went on a mission to procure fresh fish, a surprisingly rare luxury here. He was driven to a house somewhere in Havana — no idea where, he said — and was told to wait in the car. "It was like we were buying weapons," Mr. Valle said. "Unbelievable."

On the other hand, the New Yorkers were thrilled by the organic farms scattered around the capital. On a trip to buy supplies on Monday, Marco Canora, owner of the East Village restaurant Hearth, and Mr. Valle chewed on moringa leaves at an organic farm in Alamar, on the outskirts of Havana, and admired a trough seething with Californian red worms, which are used to produce compost. Ms. Lo said it was a question of adapting to what was available.

"People in New York are used to all their tomatoes being the same size with little stickers on them," Ms. Lo said. "There's totally food here. There's just a little more dirt on the roots."

As the week wore on, the talk turned to future collaboration. Elizabeth Grady, who curated the installation, plans to compile a bilingual book with a recipe from each chef involved.

Enrique Núñez, owner of La Guarida, who spent much of the week buying produce and planning menus with Doug Rodríguez, an American chef of Cuban descent, said the two had planned for Mr. Núñez to go to Mr. Rodríguez's restaurant Alma de Cuba, in Philadelphia, for a similar exchange.

"This has been one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had with a chef," Mr. Núñez said of Mr. Rodríguez. "It's like we've known each other for years."

As for Mr. Coffland, he came away not only with a nice shirt but also with some optimism that the exchange would help bring Cubans and Americans closer.

"It's the small actions that sometimes have a huge impact," he said. "That's what builds ties between countries."

Moringa Plant Catches on in Cuba
Janis Hernandez

Posted By Circles Robinson On December 19, 2011 @ 1:04 pm

HAVANA TIMES, Dec 19 — Since childhood I've been at the mercy of concoctions prepared from medicinal plants.

My grandmother and her remedies cured almost any malaise that afflicted me ­ whether using the herb vicaria for outbreaks of conjunctivitis (though this was eventually censured by doctors) or drinking anamu infusions for intestinal parasites, or soaking in llanten to heal cuts.

The use of so-called "green medicine" has always been important to my family, therefore every new property or application that was discovered and announced — either by the official media or word on the street — was immediately felt at home.

Some scientific studies found that there were significant amounts of antioxidants in Mango bark. There then came to light vimang, the medicine that was then in fashion, at least until the Noni fruit took center stage when it was claimed that it had 101 curative properties.

These days a new plant is in vogue: Moringa, the miracle of the moment.

What these three plants have in common is that they have been taken by the people as all-powerful drugs capable of countering everything from baldness to malignant tumors. In fact, despite those other attributes, their greatest values are as nutritional supplements.

The Moringa Oleifera, one of the most widespread plant species in Cuba, now has everybody going crazy. According to articles published on the internet, a Moringa leaf is more than 25 percent protein, which is as much as in eggs and twice the amount of milk.

It has four times the amount of vitamin A of carrots, four times the amount of calcium in milk, seven times the vitamin C of oranges, three times more potassium than bananas, and significant amounts of iron, phosphorus and other minerals.

At the same time as being used as animal feed, Moringa is used in many parts of the world to prevent malnutrition and to combat several diseases, such as childhood blindness associated with vitamin deficiencies and other essential dietary insufficiencies.

Additional benefits include its ornamental character, its high rate of growth, its easy cultivation, and the ability to withstand severe pruning.

Originally from northern India, it has been used in the Ayurvedic or the Hindu system of medicine for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans especially appreciated the healthy and cosmetic qualities of the oil that could be easily squeezed from its seeds.

During the past two decades it has been "discovered" in the Western world, and numerous studies have been conducted that are increasingly confirming the properties traditionally ascribed to the plant.

Miraculously, it's said to have a pleasant taste and thus can be eaten fresh or prepared in different ways; plus, its green fruit, seeds and roots are also edible.

Since it was introduced into the national diet, it has begun to proliferate in recipes such as Moringa tea, Moringa corn stew, yellow rice with Moringa, scrambled Moringa; sautéed onion, pepper and buttered Moringa; and Moringa salad.

As people have started growing this tree in several provinces, it won't be surprising if it appears in agro-markets in the future at high prices or if it takes the place of soy in our shopping carts ­ either as an oil, ground up or as yogurt.

Moringa, called the miracle tree, introduced in Cuba

August 5, 2011

Google translation. Revised by Walter Lippmann.

Pinar River, Aug. 5. - The moringa plant species that is known for its qualities in the world as the miracle tree, was introduced in Pinar del Rio, and grows in different municipalities.

Directors of Integral Forestal (EFI) La Palma said to AIN that planting was rushed members of the National Association of Small Farmers, in order to obtain the seed for other sites of Pinar del Rio and the rest of the country.

Toledo William Cross, director of the company, said that the nurseries were the 30 000 positions provided for in this first stage, while some trees planted there and reach almost a meter high.

He highlighted the immense potential of the plant for food and feed, in addition to its medicinal properties and the advantage of withstanding prolonged periods of drought.

In-crop areas, said moringa can be used as live fence or windbreak, and grows very fast, as in just one year may reach four meters in height, and bear fruit.

Its seeds ripened pods, contain all the B vitamins in large quantities, and are composed of 35 to 40 percent of fresh edible oil, very similar to olive maintain specialized digital publications.

A native of India, the nutritional value of shrub is four times higher in vitamin A as carrots well above the vitamin C of oranges, milk calcium, potassium of bananas, while having a 25 per more percent of the egg protein.

The own sources add that has all eight essential amino acids for humans and significant amounts of iron, magnesium and other nutrients, while parts such as seeds, roots or leaves are used to joint pain, inflammation and digestive problems. (AIN)

Ring the bells that still can ring,  Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack, a crack in everything, That's how the light gets in. 
~ Leonard Cohen