Odisha Researchers Working On Enhancing Shelf-Life Of This ‘Super Food’

Bhubaneswar: Researchers at the SOA Deemed to be University are working on optimizing methods to enhance the shelf-life of ‘Moringa Oleifera’—better known as ‘drumstick’ and a ‘super food’— which has enormous medicinal properties while being a rich food supplement.

Leaves, root, seed, bark and immature pods of the plant, plentily found in kitchen gardens in Odisha, contain important minerals, protein, vitamins, beta carotene, amino acids and various phenolics.

“These act as cardiac and circulatory stimulants while having anti-tumour, anti-pyretic, anti-epileptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, antispasmodic, diuretic, anti-hypertensive, anti-oxidant, anti-diabetic, hepoato-protective, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and cholesterol-lowering properties,” senior faculty at the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences (SPS), SOA’s faculty of pharmaceutical
sciences, Prof E Subudhi said.

Though the plant is extremely useful, perishability or loss of nutritional value of the leaves within a few hours of plucking proved to be a major bottleneck which required user-friendly scientific interventions with farmers in view, he said.

Subudhi said he, along with another faculty member Prof. B.B.Subudhi, had optimized methods to enhance the self-life of the Moringa products and developed easily transferable techniques to test and train farmers and entrepreneurs to tackle this problem.

SOA, funded by the central government, has set up a state-of-the-art laboratory at its Centre for Rural and Tribal Development (CRTD) under SPS, he said adding a value-added product development facility had also been established at the Rural Health Care and Training Centre, run by the University, at Jamujhari, on the outskirts of the city.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) under the Ministry of Science and Technology had sanctioned the project entitled ‘Sustainable Livelihood Generation of Tribal Community through Value-Added Product Development from Moringa Leaves’ under its scheme for ‘Techno Interventions for Tribal Empowerment (TITE)’ to facilitate infrastructure development on processing and packing of Moringa products.

The farmers were being trained in processing and packing moringa leaves at the Jamujhari centre, Subudhi said adding they were being encouraged to take up Moringa cultivation on a larger scale.

Moringa seed cake, obtained as a byproduct of pressing seeds to extract oil, is used to filter water using flocculation to produce potable water.

Moringa seeds are known to remove most impurities from the water as they contain dimeric cationic proteins which absorb and neutralize colloidal charges in turbid water causing the colloidal particles to clump together. This enables easy removal of the suspended particles as sludge by either settling and filtration, he said.

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