What’s Next for Moringa?

Having been touted as the next superfood, moringa has increasingly been getting in US households in a form of a snack bar, beverage or powder with consumers hoping to gain the nutrients from the moringa tree (or moringa oleifera) also known as the “miracle tree” in an easy, consumable way. A leafy green more nutritious than kale, moringa provides powerful anti-inflammatory benefits comparable to turmeric.

Similar to other crops that thrive in humid climates, moringa is an easy crop to grow but difficult to process correctly. As a low-acid plant, moringa doesn't fight off bacteria on its own. Selling dried moringa leaves requires a thorough process to kill off any bacteria and preserve the nutrients.

Kuli Kuli, the first consumer packaged goods company to bring moringa-based snacks in the US and currently one of the largest moringa companies in the world, has worked closely with all of their moringa suppliers from 13 countries across Africa, South America and Southeast Asia to ensure that they are only selling the highest quality moringa powder, testing all products three times before launching in the US market.

Kuli Kuli’s CEO, Lisa Curtis, first came across moringa in Niger as a Peace Corp volunteer and has been trying to source from Niger ever since. Sourcing internationally does come with its set of challenges, especially quality and transportation. In 2014 for instance, Kuli Kuli tested two samples of moringa from Niger and found it to have bacterial contamination. After speaking with the moringa women's group, Kuli Kuli discovered that the farmers were processing it outside of the farm because they didn't have a processing center and had no resources to build one. During that time, Kuli Kuli also didn’t have any way to finance it. Since Niger is a landlocked country, the other challenge has been transportation.
Niger
Kuli Kuli’s CEO, Lisa Curtis, with moringa farmers and their family in Niger
To solve these challenges, Kuli Kuli plans to utilize the grant they recently received from the Millennium Corporation Challenge, a US foreign aid agency, to bring more high quality Nigerien moringa to the US. As part this grant, the Government of Niger will be significantly improving the roads for easier access to a port when shipping moringa to the US.

Kuli Kuli's business is on-track to more than double this year. They hope to continue to partner with financing organizations like the US State Department in order to unlock the US moringa market for small, high-impact moringa farmers and build a supply chain from the ground up. Through this partnership, Kuli Kuli is now able to build a model moringa processing operation in Niger that can also serve as an example to many of the other moringa farmers around the world.

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