Neem: A Tree for Solving Global Problems
In agriculture, neem oil, fruit and the different by products such as seed cake are used as bio pesticides, fungicides and organic manures. Scientists foresee that neem tree will create a new era in the pest control and thereby solve other ecological problems affecting the globe.
Neem is decomposed only slowly, leading to a slower release of nutrients contained in it. The slow release of nutrients is attributed to the presence to the various extractable principles in seed and cake and these extractives are used as rewarding adjuvant for nitrogenous fertilizers such as urea. It is estimated that out of the total quantity of urea applied to crops, about 50–70% is lost in various forms, thereby reducing the availability of nitrogen to crops. There is an age old practice in India of blending neem cake with urea. When neem cake is blended with urea, it forms a fine coating and protects the loss of nitrogen by denitrification ensuring regulated continuous availability of nitrogen for a longer period, as per the requirement of crops. Neem seed cake also stimulates the phosphorus uptake slightly but had no effect on potassium uptake.
Indian farmers know the benefit and importance of Neem but use of Neem is very much low in our country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation on the eve of 69th Independence emphasised on ‘Save water, Save Energy, Save Fertilizer’. The vision of PM adopted by Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers & Chemicals (GNFC) and developed a process of Neem Fruit Collection with the help of rural grass root level, organization like Narmada Khedut Sahay Kendra, Sakhi Mandal, PaniSamities, DudhMandlis etc.
Over one lakh women involved in the process of neem fruit collection have achieved socio–economic empowerment as their additional incomes have grown substantially. A well–organized system has been established in particularly in tribal area of Gujarat.
GNFC’s Neem Project is evidently playing a significant role in preventing the misuse of Urea, reducing uses of Urea in farms, supplementing income to the rural poor especially women, promoting the usage of organic fertilizers for the larger interest of farmers, encouraging people for protecting and nourishing Neem trees and saving the foreign exchange of India.
Farmers in Mexico and Haiti and shepherds in Australia have begun switching to simple neem–based sprays from the usual synthetic chemical pest controls. This has allowed the farmers to export mangos and other fruit to the United States without the chemical residues that often stopped their shipments at inspection stations. Neem–based sprays have similarly allowed the shepherds in Australia to produce pesticide–free wool that is being sold to European buyers for a considerable premium over the standard wool impregnated with chemical pesticides. Neem extracts have been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use on food crops. And today more and more of the governmental agencies approve the usage of neem on food crops.
Rajiv Kumar Gupta, Managing Director of GNFC says the model adopted by GNFC has motivated many other states/companies to come forward for implementation of similar development project and they approach GNFC for the same. The Neem Project undertaken by GNFC has generated Rs 10–12 crore supplementary income to approximately one lakh rural women and landless labourers in the very first year of the project.
Jamnaben D Jadav of Vedach (Kamboyavaga) village, district Bharuch collected at total of 9909 MT of Neem seed spending half an hour a day for two months. She earned a total amount of Rs 48,059 which turned out to be a propitious economical support to her. It is truly a remarkable achievement for a rural woman who spent just half an hour a day and was able to earn this amount which would have surely boosted her socio–economic status. Neem tree is not only solve global problem but also help to generate income especially in rural areas.