|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|
Neem was introduced into Kenya, in eastern Africa, during the 19th century by East Indian immigrants, who propagated the tree essentially for its medicinal properties. Until recently, local knowledge about the tree's uses was still limited to traditional beliefs in curative properties, in particular for the treatment of malaria, stomach problems, fever, colds, chest complaints and skin disorders. The leaves and/or bark and roots are boiled and used as tea or applied directly to the affected area. Neem twigs are also used as toothbrushes.
Currently the tree is grown in large numbers along the coast, where it is locally known as "Mwarobaini" the tree of forty cures. In addition to its medicinal properties, it is used as a mosquito repellent, firewood, shade, windbreaks, boundary delineation and reforestation. The timber is used primarily for making furniture. People have gradually learned about neem's potential for reforestation, timber, firewood and as an insect repellent, and more recently as a pesticide as research and awareness campaigns on the potential of neem are being conducted in Kenya. The results are disseminated through agricultural extension services and organisations such as the Deutsche Gesellschaft fhnische Zusammenarbeit (German Technical Cooperation, GTZ), the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), and several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) (see also Foerster & Moser 2000).
In Kenya, some people use a concoction of leaves for spraying their vegetables and ornamental gardens. A large farm, Baobab, located near Mombasa, has been experimenting with neem for more than twenty years. Leaves are used as protective mulch for vegetable plants as well as to control weevils in maize storage. A mixture of neem oil and water is sprayed onto the plants. The cake is mixed directly into the soil as protection against nematodes (DM 1994).
Research on the use of neem was limited before the 1990s. In 1991 ICIPE started trials on the use of extracts of neem bark, seeds and leaves for controlling ticks and tick-borne diseases. Ticks, as disease vectors, are a serious threat to livestock in Africa. These extracts showed potential for controlling the juvenile stages of the major tick species.
Major activities on neem started in August 1994, when ICIPE received funding from the government of Finland and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to start a project on neem. The project objective was building awareness of the potential uses of the neem tree among agricultural and forestry trainers, extension personnel, health workers, and representatives of NGOs.
Training courses and seminars to create awareness about uses of neem were held at Mbita Point, an ICIPE field station on the shores of Lake Victoria. The courses covered possibilities for production, application and commercialisation of neem products in Africa. This project trained over 650 people, and demonstrated the "standard" technology, using a cold-press oil expeller for the production of neem cake and oil. In addition research has been supported to investigate the effect of neem against pests of banana, maize and cowpea (Saxena 1997, Musbyimana & Saxena 1999).
Trials to determine the efficacy of neem-based products and their performance compared to commercial insecticides for the management of agricultural pests, have been conducted in collaboration with the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI). For example, trials on cowpeas were carried out at the KARI station at the coast (Mtwapa). Furthermore, there have been studies on neem products for management of ticks.
In September 1995, the GTZ Pesticide Service Project offered a training course for technicians in extraction and bioassays of biologically active plant products. The course was held in Nairobi with participants from several countries in the region.