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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 folder4.4 Small-scale commercial neem production in Nicaragua
close this folder4.4.3 Small-scale commercial neem production in Nicaragua
View the document4.4.3.1 Seed collection
View the document4.4.3.2 Processing activities Seed collection

In the 1980s and 1990s Copinim established decentralised units in La Trinidad, Leon and Managua-Sabana Grande to process neem fruits into dried neem kernels of high quality. Each of these centres cost about US$ 10000 to 20000.

However, these plants are not in use because the farmers prefer to depulp and wash the seeds by hand in their own homes, although this requires more time and water. These "Centros de Acopio" were built with donations from international NGOs. The NGOs failed to assist the farmers to build up a stable structure or a company which guaranteed sustainable production of neem seeds.

The farmers normally collect the seeds from their own fields or boundaries. The fruits are harvested directly from the trees. The framers depulp and wash them manually. Pruning takes place during harvesting time, which enables the collectors to pick the fruits directly from the branches lying on the ground. On average 30 kg could be picked in 6 h (5 kg/h) (Leupolz 1995). The collectors do not differentiate between ripe and unripe fruits, because that would require too much time. Unripe fruits are stored in the shade until they are ripe. The average yield per tree on neem plantations is about 5 kg fruit.

After harvest the seeds were dried in the sun until they have a moisture content of 20%. Twice a week Copinim sends a car to collect the neem seeds from fixed collection points where the collectors are paid in cash. The average distance to the neem plants was approx. 50 km.

At the neem processing plant Copinim dried the neem seeds with an electric dryer to reduce the moisture content to 8 - 9%. This resulted in a weight loss of 30% which results in a price 12 cordoba (US$ 1) for 1 kg seed. The dried neem seeds are filled into bags and stored in a hall.

According to Copinim there is no shortage of raw material in Nicaragua. It is calculated that each of the 2 million trees can yield 4 kg fruit which come to 8 million kg of fruit or 1,000 tonnes of seeds. In 1999 the manufacturers in Nicaragua processed approx. 25 tons of seed, which is about 2.5% of the potential total.

Until 1998 the NGO Copinim ran its own wet processing unit (see Chapter II), which however has stopped working because it was not profitable. Since 1999 this manufacturer of neem pesticides has been buying washed and pre-dried neem seeds for an average price of 7.5 cordoba from the farmers in the regions La Trinidad/Carazo, Leon and Los Brasiles. In 1999 Copinim bought 9 tonnes of neem seeds, whereas in 1998 it purchased 14 tonnes.

Generally the volume of raw material purchased by Copinim is decreasing, which is due to a lack of investment capital for purchasing the seeds, not to a lack of demand for the final products. According to the directors, the whole of the 1999 harvest has been sold, while in 1997/98 some problems occurred in selling the oil to the USA. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not allow the import of neem oil intended for shampoo manufacture because the oil did not fulfil the quality criteria for cosmetics in the US.