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close this bookCase Studies of Neem Processing Projects Assisted by GTZ in Kenya, Dominican Republic, Thailand and Nicaragua (GTZ, 2000, 152 p.)
close this folder4. Case studies of small-scale semi-industrial neem processing in Kenya, Thailand, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua
close this folder4.2 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
View the document(introduction...)
View the document4.2.1 Introduction
View the document4.2.2 Previous activities and other projects in relation to neem
View the document4.2.3 Situation found concerning abundance of neem trees and of raw material supply
View the document4.2.4 Small-scale commercial neem production
Open this folder and view contents4.2.5 Economical assessment of Thai Neem Products Company Ltd
Open this folder and view contents4.2.6 Market potential, marketing and development strategies
View the document4.2.7 ''Lessons learnt'' and recommendations
View the document4.2.8 References

4.2.4 Small-scale commercial neem production

Commercial neem products in Thailand

In Thailand, there are several commercial neem-based products manufactured and available on the market. The locally produced neem products are all manufactured by a few small companies. Other neem pesticides will be imported from abroad in the near future and application has already been made for registration (see registration below).

The Thai Neem Products Company in Suphan Buri Province is one of the neem manufacturers who have closely cooperated with the quality control laboratory of DoA. The main product of the Thai Neem Products Company is a neem extract called "SADAO THAI 111". After this product line was successfully set up, several others were produced such as "SADAO THAI 222", "SADAO THAI 444", SADAO THAI 555", and the most recent one, "Nee-mA" (Table 27).

The following table (25) and Table 2.9 in the chapter Technical Description give an overview of the products of Thai Neem Products Co. Ltd., Suphan Buri Province, as an example of a commercial neem business:

SADAO THAI 111 is a liquid neem concentrate extracted from Thai neem seed using methanol. It contains azadiracthin as the active ingredient, at about 0.3% (w/w) (Ermel 1999, personal communication). Recommended application is spraying 2-3 times over the first two weeks of control, preferably in the evening, since UV radiation, heat and humidity rapidly destroy the active ingredient. Later the spraying interval can be modified depending on pest infestation. Target pests are the larval stages of insects. The active compound disrupts their hormone system during the moulting and pupation stages. The effectiveness ranges from highly effective to less effective and ineffective (see Chapter "Results of the efficacy trials" below, p. 78).

SADAO THAI 111 is effectively utilised on citrus and orchid farms against leaf miners.

Table 25: Neem products produced by the Thai Neem Products Company Limited

Product name

Product description

Size of packaging


Neem seed formulation extracted by methanol

5 litre

1 litre

500 ml

100 ml


Neem cake pellet

700 g


Dried neem fruit powder

700 g


Neem cake powder

700 g


Neem oil liquid soap

350 ml

SADAO THAI 222 is a form of neem cake pellet prepared from a mixture of neem cake powder (neem seeds after extraction), neem oil and dried neem fruit powder. This product contains several plant nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulphur, carbohydrates and proteins. It therefore serves as a slow release fertiliser for plants. It also comprises nematicidal and insecticidal compounds (Ermel 1999, personal communication). For target pests see below.

SADAO THAI 444 is a powder of dried neem fruit supplied in a bag. The method of packaging as a "tea bag" allows rapid and easy extraction of the powder with water. The product contains trace amounts of azadiracthin A (Ermel 1999, personal communication) but the extracts show good antifeedant efficiency against a broad spectrum of insect pests. Long-term trials have shown that it does not harm the beneficial insects and has no negative impact on the environment. For target pests see below.

Application of SADAO THAI 444 can be prepared by soaking the "tea bag" (700 g) in 20 litres of water for 12-14 hours. It is recommended to add an adjuvant as a sticker or spreader to the aqueous extract before spraying. Spraying three times every 5-7 days is recommended. Later, the time interval between sprayings may be modified depending on pest infestation. The by-products from the extracted fruit powder can also be used as a fertiliser and to control soil-borne pathogens.

SADAO THAI 555 is the by-product of alcoholic neem seed extraction. It acts as a fertiliser since it contains several plant nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sulphur. It can be used in several kinds of vegetables, by applying 350 g of SADAO THAI 555 per square metre to the soil or pot in a ratio of 1:5. For crop species see below.

Nee-mA is a liquid neem oil soap for pets. The product can be applied against ticks and fleas. Nee-mA is mixed with water in a ratio of 1:1 for application. Application is recommended once every seven days.

The Rangsit Settakit Kan Kaset Company in Bangkok is another producer of neem products for crop protection. The raw material that stems mainly from Central Plains (Lopburi, Saraburi, Ratburi, Kanchanaburi, Chainat, etc.) and the north-eastern region of Thailand includes neem fruit (200 tonnes/year) and neem seed (20 tonnes/year). The product, NEEM BOND-A, is a mixture of neem extract and other herbs such as lemon grass and galangal. It contains 0.1 w/v % azadirachtin SL and was registered in 1998. Additionally, the ground neem fruit has been sold (approximately 150 tonnes at 15-20 baht/kg in 1999) until October 1999. Within the next three years the company plans to register a new neem product for pest protection in rice and field crops.

The Ladda Company in Bangkok buys neem a product from India (containing 3% azadirachtin) and plans to sell it in Thailand. However, at present this product is only at the research stage (application on vegetables) for obtaining registration, which may take another year.

The Agro Thai Company in Bangkok is preparing for registration of a neem product. From an interview, it was obvious that Agro Thai has also produced neem products on request, but the amount was not significant for the market. Ground dried neem seeds are also available on the market at a cost of 40 baht/kg.

As mentioned before, Thai farmers have experience in using neem products for crop protection. There are three neem products registered, only two of which are available on the market. This indicates that there might be some constraints on production, for example capital investment, lack of technology or know-how, market potential, etc.

Neem fruit/seed collection in Thailand

In contrast to many other countries, neem fruits are of considerable importance as raw material for the production of neem pesticides in Thailand. The reason is that the costs of depulping in Thailand are rather high, often making it unprofitable to apply neem kernels or process them further into pesticides.

Seed treatment such as depulping, drying and decorticating is done without any machinery. This is carried out by the collectors who do the harvesting. Neem fruits are picked up from the ground or from the tree and mixed with sand. The pulp is removed by trampling or rubbing by hand. After depulping the seeds are washed and dried in the sun for 2-3 days.

As mentioned above, seeds or fruits are often bought by the governmental extension service or the extension service of the pesticide companies, and sold to the neem manufacturers.

The company Thai Neem Products Ltd basically needs two main types of raw materials i.e. dried neem fruits and neem seeds. Recently, neem oil has become another important raw material for the pet shampoo.

The main geographical sources of raw material are the central, north-eastern and northern regions of Thailand, such as Karnchanaburi (228 km), Nakhon Ratchasima (257 km), Surin (557 km), Uthai Thani (319 km), and Nakhon Sawan provinces (340 km). The distances in parenthesis are the average driving distances when delivering the raw material to the company.

When neem manufacturing was in its infancy, the raw materials had to be bought at the places where neem grew. Later on, a contract was developed between buyers and sellers. Eventually the farmers from several provinces came to sell the neem seeds and the dried neem fruits to the company at its site (see Figure 3).

Fruiting begins in April. May is the peak period when the company requires high liquidity (ready cash) to buy neem fruits and seeds in order to store them for the whole year's production. When there is a shortage neem seeds and extracts are imported from Myanmar. Neem from Myanmar is of better quality (concerning the azadirachtin content) than that from Thailand.

Until the end of 1999, the company imported a small amount of raw material from abroad but it mainly processes raw material from domestic sources.

The prices which have to be paid by the manufacturer for the raw material are given in the following table.

Table 26: Price of neem raw material in Thailand

Raw material

Price (baht/kg)

Neem fruit


Neem seed (pre-dried)


Note: 20 baht = DM 1 (exchange rate in 1999)
Source: Interview

Processing: description of the processing steps

Despite recognition of the advantage of neem-based extracts as effective and environmentally friendly botanical insecticides, adoption of neem products for pest control in Thailand is still limited. The reason may be seen in the limited availability of technology and equipment on the village-scale. Furthermore, the development of appropriate technology is required not only out of economic necessity but also for improving processing quality.

The following figure (Fig. 4) and describes selected processing steps, using the Thai Neem Products Company Ltd as an example:

Figure 4: Flow chart of the path from raw material to end products

Drying. The neem seeds are bought from the farmers or collectors after they have been initially dried in the sun. For storage, and to maintain good quality of the neem seed, it is essential to dry the seeds so that their moisture content is lower than 10%. This is performed at the Thai Neem Products Ltd using a rice dryer which operates a temperature of 80 C. It requires 10 hours to reduce the moisture content of the purchased seeds from nearly 70% to the required level.

Storing the seeds. Dried neem seeds are stored in the cold store at a temperature of 18-20 C.

Grinding. Dried neem seeds are ground in a locally made grinder which has a capacity of 100 kg per hour.

Description of the alcoholic extraction process

Extraction with methanol.

The best-known product of good quality is prepared from neem seeds by extraction with methanol. For commercial EC formulations in Thailand, a single-step extraction method is used to produce a neem-based extract (see Chapter II.2.2.3). At Thai Neem Products Ltd. 100 kg of ground neem seeds are mixed with 300 litres of methanol in a tank and stirred for 1-2 hours. This results in 200 litres of neem extracts and neem cake, which still contains about 100 litres of methanol.

The 200 l of neem extracts is concentrated using a vacuum evaporator. After about 3-4 hours, about 60 l of methanolic neem extract concentrate is obtained (see Table 27).

Bottling & storing: The extract is then transferred to big plastic containers and kept in a cold store. The extract is only bottled and shipped on request.

Neem extracts are packed in different bottle sizes: 5 l, 1 l, 500 ml, and 100 ml. The bottles are labelled and are then ready for shipment.

Table 27: Current production capacity of the Thai Neem Products Company Limited


Maximum production capacity

Current production capacity*

Neem extract

200 l per day

60 l per day

Neem oil

20 l per day

6 l per day

Neem cake

270 kg per day

80 kg per day

Notes: * The company does not operate the machine every day.

Simple description of neem cake pellet process

Drying and grinding of the neem fruits are the same as for seed.


Ground neem fruits are mixed with neem cake and neem oil in the proportions 50:30:20 in a mixing machine.

Pellet pressing.

The neem fruit-cake-oil mixture is then extruded by a pellet-pressing machine (see figure 5).

Figure 5: Flow chart of neem cake pellet production


700 g of neem pellets is packed and sealed in a plastic bag. The bag is labelled as Thai Neem 222.

Description of neem cake powder process


The by-product of extract manufacturing, called "extracted cake", is dried for 2-3 days.


700 g of dried cake is packed in a plastic bag and labelled as Thai Neem 555.

Description of dried neem fruit powder process


Dried neem fruits are ground to a powder using the grinder described above.


700 grams of ground neem fruit powder is packed in a cotton bag and labelled as Thai Neem 444.

Quality control

The DoA (1998) was aware of the importance of the quality control aspect for manufacturing reliable botanically-based pesticides. Therefore research has been carried out during recent years to find out which factors have to be improved in the production chain for botanical pesticides. Technologies have been developed and manufacturers trained free of charge on request by the DoA.

A lot of research work showed that suitable post-harvest technology (in particular seed drying) is necessary to achieve good quality of the raw material. High ambient temperature and high moisture content cause rapid degradation of azadirachtin and its analogues (Ermel et al. 1997). Thus there is a need for investigation of and investment in the drying temperature and the equipment. Sanguanpong (1997) reported that different drying temperatures ranging from 60-75-90 C can be used to reduce seed moisture content from initial 60% MC to 14% moisture content without any statistical change of the azadirachtin content in neem seed. Furthermore it has been found that the drying time required at a high temperature (90 C) was the shortest, at only 8 hours, while drying in the sun for 1 day followed by further drying at 60 C took 21 hours. In addition, the sun drying performed by the farmers is not as effective as drying at high temperatures.

To apply this finding to the improvement of processing quality, there must be investment in certain equipment such as seed dryers, which must then be employed. However, it is still necessary to develop suitable equipment in further experiments.

Moreover, it is also necessary for such processes as seed crushing, extraction and evaporation to invest in equipment such as depulverisers, overhead stirrers or mixers and vacuum evaporators.

The quality (i.e. the azadirachtin content) of neem pesticides is checked about four times a year. The neem extract is randomly sampled and sent to the Office of Research and Development of Botanical Pesticides at the Department of Agriculture to check the azadirachtin content by HPLC. As a result, it is certified that the neem extract produced contains more than 0.1% w/w azadiracthin. Hence the product meets the quality criterion set by the government. Nonetheless, there is no quality control of other products which do not contain azadirachtin. Additionally the DoA offered the manufacturers their service free of charge. However, not all were interested in improving the quality of their products.

Pesticide registration policy

In 1991, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperation had revised and amended the Toxic Substance Act B.E. 2510 (1967) and B.E. 2516 (1973). This revision included the phased registration scheme which followed closely the guidelines prescribed by the FAO's international "Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides", a phased registration scheme comprising three steps:

· Trial or experimental clearance
· Provisional or limited clearance
· Commercial or full registration.

In 1992, the Ministry of Industry introduced the Hazardous Substances Act, B.E. 2535, which is published and has been in force since 1995, and repealed two former Acts. The Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operation is responsible for regulating and overseeing matters of registration, import, domestic production, and export concerning toxic substances. It is in charge of quality control, container examination, testing, labelling, storage, destruction and other relevant matters. Application for registration must be made for any substances imported for sale or produced for export, and even the possession and storage of such substances. This registration consists of three steps.

Even though the Thai government tries to control and prevent any negative impacts upon human or animal health or the environment arising from the use of hazardous substances, the adverse effects still continue to some extent (Sombatsiri 1999).

Regarding legal constraints on pesticide use and pesticide imports, Thailand has banned about 41 hazardous synthetic pesticides. However there is no strict enforcement of registration policy for synthetic chemical products or for neem products.

At present, several companies are selling neem products on the pesticide market in Thailand. Four companies are the major players in the neem business and only two of them have registered their products. In total three products are registered. There are still neem products on the market which are not registered.

The government of Thailand is trying to promote the use of bio-pesticides to replace the synthetic ones. To achieve this objective, the Department of Agriculture promotes alternative methods. Bacillus thuringiensis, Nuclear Polyhedrosis Virus (NPV) and neem extracts do not require toxicological data for registration (Wong-Ek et al. 1997). The registration guideline set by the Department of Agriculture in the first half of the 1990s requires La. that a neem formulation contain at least 0.1% azadirachtin and be effective in controlling the pests specified on the label, which has to be proved in a one-year efficacy test. In contrast to many other countries, the efficacy tests required by the authorised institutions in Thailand do not incur any costs to the companies applying. The registration fee is low and the product is registered for three years.

Table 28 shows the neem products which were registered at the end of 1999.

Table 28: Registered neem-based pesticides in Thailand (as of 1999)

Company name


Azadirachtin content

Registration date

Raw material

Thai Neem Products Co Ltd


0.1 w/v % liquid

25 March 1997

Neem seed

Thai Neem Products Co Ltd


0.7 w/v % SL

13 January 1999

Neem seed

Rangsit Settakit Karn Kaset Company


0.1 w/v % SL

5 February 1998

Neem fruit

10 This product is not available on the market (October 1999).

Source: Interview

Technical, quality, packaging and labelling requirements for neem pesticides

The technical and quality requirements for neem pesticides in Thailand have been taken from the registration of synthetic pesticides:

· Chemical and physical properties
· Toxicology
· Toxic residue on agricultural products
· Impact on environment and animals (bees, birds, fish, etc.)
· Efficacy data
· Toxic residue analysis method

Packaging requirements are as follows:

· For hazardous liquids the packaging material should be glass or plastic bottles (100 ml, 250 ml, 1,000 ml and 2,000 ml)

· For hazardous powders the packaging material can be cans, plastic bottles, or plastic bags in paper boxes (100 g, 250 g, 500 g, and 1,000 g)

· For hazardous pellets the packaging material can be plastic bags or thick paper bags (10, 15, 20 and 25 kg)

Labelling requirements for any pesticides consist of

· a label with the words "Hazardous Substance" written in red

· the scientific name of active ingredient

· the name and location of producer

· the quantity of the hazardous substance with the proportion of the active ingredient

· the expiry date

· instructions for applying the products, information on the benefits and storage, including a warning and diagnosis of poisoning, first aid measures and medical treatment

Results of the efficacy trials

Thai farmers apply neem products on fruit trees (citrus, mango and grape), vegetables (asparagus11, cabbage, Chinese kale, etc.12) and flowers (jasmine, roses, marigolds and crown of thorns, etc.13) including orchids (Prompard 1994).

11 Neem extracts are proven to act against the beet army worm on asparagus in Thailand (Sombatsiri 1993, Sombatsiri & Choeikamhaeng 1997).

12 Green mustard, Chinese cabbage, onion, multiplier onion, angle loafs, winter melon, tomato, chilli, basil, sweet basil, sweet potato, Chinese radish, taro, cucumber, yard-long bean

13 Rose bay, queen of the night, Chinese rose, impala lily, white champak, and aglanema plants

The efficacy of neem products against pests can be divided into three levels:

· High efficacy: caterpillars, leaf miners, leaf rollers, cutworms, psyllids, aphids
· Moderate efficacy: borers, fruit flies, thrips, spider mites
· Little or no efficacy: beaters, weevils, bugs, rust mites

If there is a pest outbreak, neem products might not effective enough on their own and it might be necessary to apply synthetic pesticides also in order to control the pests. More research is required on using neem products against different pests and varying severity of pest outbreak.

Efficacy tests on the products of the Thai Neem Products Co Ltd have revealed the following effects:

Sadao 111 (alcoholic extract): the highly susceptible insects are cutworms, beet army worm, leaf-chewing caterpillars e.g. the diamond-back moth, leaf-rollers, leaf-miners, aphids and psyllids. The less susceptible insects are the American army worm, rice stem borer, shoot-boring maggots, topborer, leaf hoppers, thrips, whiteflies, and red mites.

The insects not affected by the neem extract are flea beatles, sucking bugs, weevils, and mealy bugs. At present, SADAO THAI 111 is effectively used in citrus and orchid farms against leaf miners.

Sadao 222 (cake pellet): the main target pests are insect larvae and nematodes that damage the plant roots at an early stage of growth. The application of SADAO THAI 222 is also recommended for vegetable crops such as Chinese kale, green mustard, cabbage, onion, and multiplier onion at a rate of 1 kg/30 - 40 sq m once a month. Other suggested plants are sweet potato, Chinese radish, taro, cucumber, yard-long bean, and asparagus. The recommended dose is 5 -10 g (0.5 tablespoon) per hole applied to the soil around the plants once a month. For ornamentals such as crown of thorns, jasmine, roses, marigolds, orchids, rose bay, queen of the night, Chinese rose and impala lily, 0.5 tablespoon per plant pot is recommended.

Sadao 444 (tea bag powder): the extracts prepared can control leaf miners, leaf rollers, leaf-chewing caterpillars, cutworm, diamond-back moth, beet army worm, borers, citrus caterpillars, aphids, thrips and red mites.

Sadao 555 (cake powder): this can be used on several kinds of vegetables such as Chinese kale, green mustard, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, onion, cucumber, angle loafs, winter melon, tomato, chilli, asparagus, basil and sweet basil. It can also be applied to several types of ornamentals such as crown of thorns, jasmine, roses, marigolds, orchids, white champak, Chinese roses and aglanema plants.

Other potential uses of neem-based pesticides

Neem may not only be used to manufacture azadirachtin-containing products, but also byproducts such as oil and cake are obtained during processing (see technical description in Chapter II).

Neem oil also is used in pet shampoos and neem cake can generally be used as an ingredient in animal feeds, or as a fertiliser. It is sold as neem cake powder or neem cake pellet. They have multiple uses, e.g. as fertilisers and pesticides for controlling nematodes.

The use of neem cake as an ingredient for cattle feed seems to be possible, but this is not practised in Thailand. When using neem as a fertiliser, a distinction has to be made between using neem cake as organic manure or as a nitrification inhibitor together with urea. Using neem cakes as organic manure requires huge quantities before a significant yield increase can be observed. Using the cake as a nitrification inhibitor together with urea requires only amounts of up to 25 kg/ha for yield increases of 5 and 10% (Ketkar & Ketkar 1995).