|Case Studies of Neem Processing Projects Assisted by GTZ in Kenya, Dominican Republic, Thailand and Nicaragua (GTZ, 2000, 152 p.)|
|4. Case studies of small-scale semi-industrial neem processing in Kenya, Thailand, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua|
Abundance of neem trees
Kenya has good potential for growing neem. Based on a conservative GIS analysis with rainfall, altitude and soil characteristics as parameters it is estimated that over 25% of the land area in Kenya is suitable for growing neem (DM 1995). The tree is currently found across Lamu, Taita Taveta, Kilifi and Mombasa Districts in the Coast Province. About 30-year-old stands of neem trees are present in Wajir, Mandera and Garissa in the North Eastern Province. Neem trees are also found around Lake Magadi.
There is no available information on the exact number of trees growing in Kenya; however, it can be estimated that several million stems are fruiting in the country. In a preliminary survey done by DM (1995), neem trees were found to be common along the coast. In Lamu District, most trees were found bordering plots of land, around schools and along roads. In Taita Taveta District trees were widely dispersed throughout the district. It was estimated that an average of one to two trees could be found on most homesteads in Mwatate Division. In Kilifi District, hundreds of mature neem trees can be seen on either side of the main road all the way to Malindi. In Mombasa District neem was present within Mombasa City centre, around government offices and in residential areas. Large numbers of neem trees are also found along the main road to Mtwapa. In North Eastern Province, the tree is confined to settlements. So far the tree has not been planted on plantations.
Several organisations have been purchasing seeds for propagation and processing. For example, the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) is active in the collection and dissemination of neem seeds to farmers. Collection and germination of seeds is organised by the KEFRI research station at the Coast. The KEFRI headquarters in Muguga sells the seeds to farmers. The Kenya Forestry Seed Center has distributed neem seeds to farmers in the dry areas of Western Kenya. The ICIPE Awareness Project has also purchased seeds for propagation and for processing in order to produce material to be used in trials. Seeds and seedlings are being sold at Mbita Point, ICIPE's field station on Lake Victoria.
The Kenya Institute of Organic Farming (KIOF), a member of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), is promoting the dissemination of the existing local knowledge of the potential use of neem leaves, seeds and bark for plant protection, and conducting demonstration trials.
As stated earlier, the neem tree has been mainly used for shade and for its curative properties, using the leaves and the bark. Seeds have been occasionally collected for sale, mainly for propagation purposes and not for processing. As a result, no machinery has been developed specifically for neem processing. Baobab Farm uses a locally available hand press to extract neem oil from entire seeds, extracting about 2 l of oil per 100 kg of clean seeds (DM 1995). The ICIPE Awareness Project at Mbita Point uses an imported "Comet" oil expeller (manufactured by Monforts, Germany), which, although locally available, is costly. More affordable Indian-made oil mills are locally available; however, the quality of the steel would have to be taken into consideration to determine their suitability for neem processing because the neem seeds/kernels are quite abrasive. For instance, even the spindle of the Comet oil expellers, although made of a special steel, has to be replaced after processing about 10 tonnes of neem seed/kernel (D. Rocco, personal communication).
Need for neem products to manage pests in Kenya
Although the issue of pesticide residues is not considered in the Plant Protection Act of Kenya, and no regular control of residues is carried out on horticultural produce for the internal market, concerns about the levels of pesticide residues is increasing. KARI, through the Pesticide Chemistry Laboratory, has lately conducted studies on pesticide residues on crops such as tomatoes (Ngatia et al. 1996). The pesticide Chemistry Laboratory, formerly under the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), and now under the Kenya Plant Health Inspection Service (KEPHIS), is also a pesticide residue level testing facility, used mainly for the horticultural export market.
The production of simple, home-made pest control products from the neem tree has been considered an attractive option for the resource-poor farmer in developing countries such as the majority of the Kenyan farmers. However, as in other countries the Kenyan farmers mentioned the various shortcomings (Moser 1996, Foerster & Moser 2000) listed in Chapter I and the majority of the farmers prefer ready-to-use pesticides.
Apart form this local commercial production and marketing of neem-based pesticides were expected to show the merits and benefits listed in Chapter I.