The neem tree has proven itself beneficial not only in farming activities but has helped empower about one lakh rural women
Nilesh Shukla | December 22, 2016
In agriculture, neem oil, fruit and the different byproducts such as seed cake are used as bio-pesticides, fungicides and organic manures. Neem is decomposed slowly, leading to a slower release of nutrients contained in it. The slow release of nutrients is attributed to the presence of extractives used as rewarding adjuvant for nitrogenous fertilisers such as urea.
It is estimated that out of the total quantity of urea applied to crops, about 50-70 percent is lost in various forms, thereby reducing nitrogen to crops. There is an age-old practice in India of blending neem cake with urea. When neem cake is blended with urea, it forms a fine coating and protects the loss of nitrogen by denitrification ensuring continuous availability of nitrogen for a longer period, as per the requirement of crops.
Neem seed cake also stimulates the phosphorus uptake slightly but has no effect on potassium uptake.
Indian farmers know the benefit and importance of neem but its use is low in our country. Prime minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation on the eve of 69th Independence emphasised on ‘Save water, Save Energy, Save Fertilizer’.
The vision of our PM was adopted by Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers & Chemicals (GNFC) and it developed a process of neem fruit collection with the help of rural grassroot level organisations and initiatives like Narmada Khedut Sahay Kendra, Sakhi Mandal Yojana, Pani Samitis and Dudh Mandalis. Through this, over one lakh women involved in the process of neem fruit collection have achieved socioeconomic empowerment as their additional incomes have grown substantially. A well organised system has also been established in tribal areas of Gujarat.
GNFC’s neem project is evidently playing a significant role in preventing the misuse of urea, reducing uses of urea in farms, supplementing income to the rural poor especially women, promoting the usage of organic fertilisers and encouraging people for protecting and nourishing neem trees.
The uses of neem are also recognised by farmers in Mexico and Haiti and shepherds in Australia. They have begun switching to simple neem-based sprays from the usual synthetic chemical pest controls. This has allowed the farmers to export fruits like mangoes to the United States without chemical residues which often stopped their shipments at inspection stations.
Neem-based sprays have similarly allowed the shepherds in Australia to produce pesticide-free wool that is being sold to European buyers for a considerable premium over the standard wool impregnated with chemical pesticides. Neem extracts have been approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency for use on food crops.
Rajiv Kumar Gupta, managing director of GNFC says that the model adopted by GNFC has motivated many other states/companies to come forward for implementation of similar development project. The neem project undertaken by GNFC has generated Rs 10-12 crore income to about one lakh rural women and landless labourers in the very first year of the project.
Jamnaben D Jadav of Kamboya Vaga village in district Bharuch collected a total of 9,909 MT of neem seed spending half an hour a day for two months. She earned a total amount of Rs 48,059 which turned out to be a propitious economical support to her.
The neem tree is not only beneficial in farming activities but also helps generate income in rural areas.