Carob & Moringa for health and environment

Carob – Ceratonia siliqua and Drumstick trees – Moringa oleifera, provide healthy food crops which have the potential to improve dietary health, benefit the environment, retard climate change and convert CO2 into oxygen.

Grower, George Ainsley of Ainsley Agroforestry & Aquaponics grows 2400 carob and Moringa trees on his land just south of Geraldton. He plans to plant another 5600 carob and 18,000 Moringa and has access to the fruit of another 5000 carobs on neighbouring lands which, all together are the start of WA’s Mid West Tree Crop industry.

The Moringa will be grown for their oil – extracted from the seed, while those planted on land further east, in areas such as Morawa with sufficient ground water, will be grown for their leaves.

Mr Ainsley said the carob which is native to the Mediterranean and Middle East, is an inter-generational tree, taking 6–8 years to first fruit, then continuing to bear fruit for hundreds of years. “The seed – from which locust bean gum is obtained, when separated from the fruit pod leaves the kibble, which is a good source of dietary fibre, natural sugars and bio-active compounds beneficial for control of many health problems such as diabetes, heart diseases and colon cancer.”

Moringa is a fast growing, relatively short-lived tree of about 15 years, the maidenhair-fern shaped leaves of which are edible and provide a high protein food with all the essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals.

“The same leaves can be made into a protein isolate which in turn can form a protein for human foods. The pod seed holds an oil which takes longer to turn rancid and has a higher oleic content than olive oil, which makes it very economical for cooking.

“The oil is also an excellent base for cosmetics and the de-oiled seed, in turn, can be milled into a high protein flour. The tree, native to the Indian subcontinent, is well known throughout Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe so we are targeting the Asia market with clean Australian product.”

Mr Ainsley said growers must decide when planting, if the Moringa are to be grown for leaf or pod/seed product as this affects the initial planting density. Both the trees can be grown on degraded land as long as there is sufficient available ground water, even brackish groundwater.

“We have received an offtake agreement from a WA-based grain business for our carob products which will be blended with their final product and marketed as a ‘100% natural sweet food bar with no added sugar’,” Mr Ainsley said.

“The same business has sent a letter for our Moringa alternative plant protein isolate for export to Singapore. A European-based business has asked if we can export Moringa protein isolate to their Singapore operation where it will be converted into protein for onward sale to South East Asian food manufacturers. This will start the carob and Moringa tree crop export industry through the Port of Geraldton.”

Mr Ainsley said Moringa trees grow well in the Mid West of WA and adjacent areas; they grow in arid land on available ground water and are an ideal tree for regenerating land.

“The carob tree grows in parts of NSW and South Australia where there is already an established industry. Carobs Australia connects interested parties around the country and there are now further developments with a mid NSW broadacre farmer establishing a carob industry there.

“It would be good to have carob trees growing in the eastern and western halves of the country for availability of fruit product in case of adverse weather conditions,” Mr Ainsley said, adding that widespread planting of these drought-tolerant trees would also help prevent and offset the effects of climate change.

If you are interested in the growing Mid West Tree Crop industry, contact: Georgeainsley2@bigpond.com

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