Monday, December 3, 2007

Medicinal Plants: Noni (Morinda citrifolia) planting for profit?

Have you heard of Noni or Indian Mulberry that is US$3 billion business? Common names of this plant include great morinda, beach mulberry, nono, nonu, mengkudu and ach.

The plant which belongs to the Rubiaceae family is a native to India and South East Asia. It spread to Polynesian islands centuries back.

The health claims about noni are amazing. It is supposed to be good in preventing/managing diabetes, cardio-vascular problems, skin blemishes, arthritis, asthma, bone ailments, BP, migraines, AIDS, viruses and infections, impotency, malignancies, pain and hair loss. Several nations have been using noni medically for centuries.

But none of the claims have been proved scientifically so far. One reason for this could be that only in the early 1990s the West became aware of the ‘miracle’ plant. Marketing noni pulp powder in capsule form started in 1992. This was followed by noni juice which is fast gaining popularity in USA and Europe. It appears that certain herbal products do not require Food & Drugs Administration (FDA) clearance in the US. The European Union has approved noni juice as a ‘novel food’ in 2002 without endorsing the health claims.

While the US manufactures most of noni products the major portion of the raw materials come from Polynesia. Now other countries including India are also taking up noni cultivation.

Noni is a shrub that can grow to 20 feet height. Stem cutting is the normal method of propagation though seed germination is also possible. The planting distance is 10-15 feet, say, about 300 plants per acre. Grows well in sunny moist/dry sandy soil and tolerates salinity (hence perhaps the name beach mulberry), and drought. It thrives even in secondary soil.

Noni starts fruiting in 18 months and has a productive life span of 30 to 40 years. The average output is 4 to 8 kg of fruit per month per plant. Other parts of the plant are also useful. But the cultivation is mainly for the potato-sized fruits. The shrub is also effective in protecting beaches and as windbreakers. Noni farming is reportedly a highly profitable venture.

The case of noni in India presents a paradox. The natural growth has been widely destroyed because of the foul smell while the fruits ripen, and for other cultivation. So much so it is on the endangered list now. I have seen this plant in Kerala; nobody bothers about it. Now there is a concentrated effort to popularize noni planting in the country.

I believe that there are agencies that furnish free project reports and offer buy back arrangement. More details about noni planting can be obtained from:

Indian Noni Research Foundation
Research Centre
19 & 20 Bharath Nagar Annex, Medavakkam Road
Sholinganallur, Chennai - 600 119 India
e-mail : info@inrf.org Visit : www.inrf.org

Or you can visit the website of the World Noni Research Foundation : www.worldnoni.org

Ends.

Also see:

Noni the medicinal plant, a thriving business

Emu farming in India




5 comments:

Steve J Bayer said...

Hi Mr. Abraham,
I have seen your comment on Angloindianblogs.com and was wondering if you would be interested in having your blog feed syndicated on angloindianblogs.com

Please do let me know which of your blogs you would be comfortable to have syndicated on anlgoindianblogs.com

Thanking you,
Steve
angloindianblogs.com

Abraham Tharakan said...

Thanks, Steve. Please do let me know the terms and conditions. I have done a few blog posts in which the AI features.

My email id is: abrahamtharakan1@gmail.com

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