worth taking. This, therefore, is a time for people to bring the plant and its products into international use. An orderly creation of plantations and markets—with reliable availability of uniform, good quality seeds at stable prices—could see neem rise steadily to become one of the most widely grown trees in the world—perhaps eventually rivaling the African oil palm in its value.

Governments, agencies, and individuals that assist developing nations should support the development of neem plantings, underwrite projects to harvest and process the seeds for use in pest control and personal hygiene, and assist countries to develop high-quality ecotypes in terms of azadirachtin content and other desirable traits.

In developing neem, there is potential for much innovation. One example is the concept of centering rural industries around neem-extraction facilities.1 In this system, industrial development would be integrated with neem-tree growing. It might incorporate crops and livestock, but growing neem trees and processing their products would form the core. This integrated combination has a good chance of providing sustainable, self-reliant, and decentralized rural development—a long-sought goal of many economic development programs.2 In addition, it could help national interests by reducing pesticide imports and perhaps increasing exports.

PESTICIDE RESEARCH

In the coming years, the struggle to keep food out of the jaws of plant-eating pests will increase in importance as human populations increase, living standards rise, demands for quality food (and the consequent emphasis on blemish-free fruits and vegetables) increase, and the public clamor to eliminate synthetic insecticides becomes more insistent. Neem could be the key to opening this new era of safer pest-control products and, if so, is likely to be in huge demand.

Although research on neem-based pesticides is under way, it is only a fraction of what it might be. Currently, there are projects in Australia, Bangladesh, Burma, Canada, Dominican Republic, Germany, India, Israel, Kenya, Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Pakistan, and the United States.3 Nonetheless, most are small, undersupported, and tacked onto other

1  

This idea was first proposed in Michel-Kim and Brandt, 1981, as well as by S.A. Radwanski.

2  

Something similar has been created in Taiwan, where industrial parks are centered around areas of bamboo production.

3  

Most of this work has been summarized at three international conferences. (See Schmutterer et al., 1981; Schmutterer and Ascher, 1984; and Schmutterer and Ascher, 1987.)



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement