|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|
|4.2 Documentation of neem activities in Thailand with special reference to the Thai Neem Products Company Ltd and the assistance provided to the DoA, Toxicological Division by CiM|
The use of simple water-based extracts of neem fruits and seeds - and other botanical pesticides - for pest control is traditional knowledge which has been passed down from one generation to the next. During the time when the "green revolution" was being introduced and advocated (especially during the 1970s and 1980s) and chemical pesticides were being introduced, this knowledge was largely lost and botanical pesticides were not common practice any more.
Since the late 1980s, when the effects of pesticides on farmers, resources and consumers became obvious to everyone, the government has changed its policy and put more emphasis on the use of botanicals. A range of projects has started to advocate the re-introduction of botanicals and revive the traditional knowledge.
It has been the policy of the government since the beginning of the 1990s to assist the realisation of the self-help potential of Thai farmers in applying alternatives to broad-spectrum pesticides with low toxicity and low residues. One example was that in Thailand the Department of Agricultural Extension (DoAE 1998) permitted and promoted the extension service's buying and dissemination of neem seeds and the sale of half-finished or ready-to-use neem products.
The focus of the governmental policy was placed on the following aspects:
· Investigation and promotion of botanical pesticides which could be used in crude form by the farmers (mainly investigated by the Department of Entomology of Kasetsart University, Bangkok)
· Development of technologies to formulate botanicals, (responsible department: DoA, Division of Toxic Agricultural Substances)
· Demonstrations and training for farmers to understand the nature and advantages of botanical pesticides, (responsible department: DoAE)
The media have spread knowledge about model farmers successfully working solely with non-synthetic pesticides.
The use and improvement of home-made products and the development of standardised neem extracts was assisted in the late 1980s and the early 1990s by the NGO-supporting component of the GTZ project "Production of Natural Insecticides from Tropical Plants". Additionally a laboratory for neem analysis for quality control has been set up.
A range of further organisations and institutions such as RENPAP/UNIDO/UNDP (1994), FAO (1994), CUSO, the University of Minnesota, Misereor etc. have supported the new governmental activities to put emphasis on the use of botanicals, with various conferences, workshops and projects, and have investigated the adoption rate and the constraints (Mitchell 1993, Tran 1998).
Neem can be considered as an economically significant and practically applicable means of pest control in rural areas as has been shown by the relevant scientific research. Neem showed considerable potential for controlling various insect pests such as Plutella xylostella, Spodoptera litura, S. exigua, Hellula undalis, Phyllocnistis citrella, Helicoverpa armigera, Ohiomyia phaseloi, Nephotettix virescens and spider mites (Sombatsiri et al. 1990, 1995, 1998, Sanguanpong 1993).
The practice of mixing neem materials, especially neem oil, with store products in a warehouse trial showed effective protection against certain store pests (Sanguanpong 1996).
Today the knowledge is again generally available to rural farmers. Certain farmers' groups are applying plant-derived pesticides to a sometimes amazing extent. The constraints concerning labour, availability of raw materials and standardisation, however, still remain the same as described earlier (cf. Chapter II, Foerster & Moser 2000) and by the authors presented below:
Sukthamraksa (1994) conducted an interesting farm survey in Ratchaburi Province, Central Plains of Thailand, six years after training on the use of neem products in 1988. After the training, about 65.4% of the sampled households had accepted the use of neem products, mainly on vegetables (kale, asparagus and cabbage) and ornamentals. Six years after the training, 44% of the sampled households were still using neem pesticides. These farmers have used and plan to use neem in the future because of the lower input costs, no negative impacts on health, and higher efficacy than synthetic pesticides.
Of the farmers investigated, 21.4% have stopped using neem products, due to lack of neem raw material, easy access to synthetic pesticides and swapping from asparagus or other vegetables to field crops.
The other farmers use synthetic pesticides, because they are easy to come by, they are convenient to use, because of the efficacy and efficient services and lack of information about any alternatives. More than 50% of the group have reduced their use of synthetic pesticides due to the high costs of these pesticides (on average 1000 baht per rai per year), and the health and environmental impacts (6.25 rai = 1 ha).
About 94.4% of the farmers who apply neem extracts use home-made extracts. The reasons were the cheaper price and assured quality. Neem fruit costs about 6 baht/kg from the extension officers and ground neem fruit costs 7 to 10 baht/kg.
The suggestions taken from this study were:
· Provide the raw material, promote planting of neem trees in local areas, conduct research on neem products.
Poorod (1995) conducted a farm survey in Phathum Thani province, another province of the Central Plains. About 21.6% of the sampled households used neem products in their citrus plantations for the same reasons as listed above.
Most of the farmers (78.4%) did not apply neem products, for the following reasons:
· Applying neem products requires great quantities of raw material and more time.
· Extraction of neem is relatively complex.
· Lack of labour and frequent spraying of neem products.
· Lack of experience in the proper application of neem products.
· Low efficacy when using neem products if compared with synthetic pesticides.
The factors which made farmers interested in neem products were:
· Number of years in growing citrus (more than 10 years).
· Availability of information about using neem products (positive sign).
· Farm size (positive sign).
Tongdang (1994) studied the factors which influence the farmers' decision for or against applying neem pesticides in Suphan Buri province, Central Plain of Thailand. The main motivation for farmers who have used neem products for at least 2 years was the low toxicity. Problems raised by the farmers include the low quality of the neem water extracts, the laborious preparation of extracts, application and storage. The farmers observed that using neem products lowered yields, compared to using synthetic pesticides. However, 93% of the households continued to apply neem products due to cost savings, safety, efficacy and higher price for the products. Only 7% stopped using neem products. The reasons given were:
· No time for preparation, complicated extraction procedure, not effective in terms of controlling pests.
In this survey, about 60% of the households used neem products in rice fields, 40% in vegetable crops, 20% on fruits and 12% in flowers (some farmers applied neem on different crops). About 73.3% of the sampled households applied neem products every year and 26.7% sometimes. While 58% used neem products on their own, 42% mixed them with synthetic pesticides. The farmers using neem products formed a group for purchasing the raw material more cheaply in bulk amounts.
The conclusion drawn from these studies is that there is a potential for marketing ready-made neem products. Farmers mentioned that one of the constraints on using neem products was the complex extraction process. On the other hand, the farmers pay more attention to the quality of home-made neem products than they would if they purchased them.
In the beginning of the 1990s a range of neem pesticides, often a mixture of different plant extracts was offered by some companies on the markets. Occasional checks of quality and efficacy by the DoA, however, revealed that the efficacy of the products was not reliable and the products are not standardised.
Therefore the DoA supported the development and improvement of technologies for production and formulation of biological/neem pesticides. A pilot plant for improving neem-processing technology has been set up, including neem oil pressing and a second extraction step for enriched neem powder. This project was assisted by an integrated German expert from 1994 to 1999.