Medical students in Maumere, Flores, have made an exciting discovery that could change the lives of diabetes sufferers both in Indonesia, and all over the world.
I recently came across a news article about a group of medical students in Maumere, who have been studying the medicinal properties of the moringa plant and its potential use helping sufferers of diabetes. Diabetes is a condition that is currently on the rise in Indonesia, and as someone who has a family member effected by diabetes, I was very interested to learn more about the research. With few clues as to how to find the students, I wasn’t sure where to start my search, however, on a recent trip to Maumere, as luck would have it, my new friend and guide for the day, Rini, knew exactly where to look. Rini works at the same university as the research team, and was only too happy to introduce me to them. And so I met the wonderful Nia, a lecturer at Nusa Nipa University, driving the development of the potentially life-changing moringa biscuits.
Moringa, sometimes called the ‘miracle tree’, grows prolifically throughout Southeast Asia, and is found growing all over Indonesia and Flores. A ‘super food’, it is extremely high in anti-oxidants and fibre, is said to be anti-inflammatory, and have properties that may reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Moringa has a good shelf life once picked and cooked, which means it can be conveniently stored and kept fresh for long periods, and when baked into biscuits, as the researchers have been doing, can last for up to one month in the fridge.
Nia and the students have been developing a biscuit recipe, involving a lot of delicious trial and error. The recipe is currently being registered and authorised, like a patent, by BPOM, a process that should take about a month. I happily taste-tested the biscuits, and to me, they tasted a lot like a buttery shortbread – hard to believe that it is a health food!
For many type-two diabetes sufferers, a diet that is high in sugar and eating processed or ‘fast’ foods is a big part of the problem. Moringa biscuits are a delicious high-fibre alternative, leaving people feeling fuller for longer. Plus it keeps blood sugar levels stable, avoiding the peaks and troughs that have people reaching for a sugar hit. The biscuits are easy to make, convenient and easy to store, giving people a healthy option at their fingertips.
The students at the university are directing production of the biscuits, while also working with the head of Nita Village and the students who have completed university studies. These students are being encouraged to pursue additional study and training in their chosen field, and to also learn more about the production of the moringa biscuits, including recipe, production, packaging, branding and sales strategies, so that the good work of Nia and her team can be adopted by others.
The NTT province government program is also involved, spearheading a program to promote moringa consumption. It’s reputation as a super-food, high nutrient and fibre content, its many uses and the fact that it is found in abundance all over Indonesia, means that it has the potential to be a very successful crop for Indonesians.
The moringa ‘miracle tree’ is living up to its name, providing health benefits as well as creating industry and employment opportunities. Once considered just an animal feed crop, it is now thought to be a new ‘wonder drug’ for diabetes sufferers, and is creating jobs and income for Flores communities. After visiting the Nita Village, we then met with the impressive and inspiring Kepala Desa, who are also leading the way with Bikelor moringa biscuits. Stay tuned to learn more about these life-changing initiatives, as we will bring you further stories in the coming weeks.