The Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), has made major moves on identifying NEEM plant to help the federal government curb coronavirus and therefore, transform into wealth for the nation. BINTA SHAMA reports.
Study has shown that Azadirachta indica, commonly known as ‘neem, nimtree or Indian lilac,’ is likely native to the Indian subcontinent and to dry areas throughout South Asia. It has been introduced to parts of Africa, the Caribbean, and numerous counties in South and Central America. The plant has long been used in Ayurvedic and folk medicine and is used in cosmetics and in organic farming applications.
This particular specie of plant is multi-versatile in nature in the sense that, it can be used in numerous forms to benefit humanity. It is a tree in the mahogany family Meliaceae. It is one of two species in the genus Azadirachta, and is native to the Indian subcontinent. It is typically grown in tropical and semi-tropical regions. Neem trees also grow in islands located in the southern part of Iran. Its fruits and seeds are the source of neem oil.
Intervention of RMRDC on neem
The Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) recently, at the heat of the outbreak of the pandemic in the year 2020, took measures to research on the neem plant which is commonly grown in the Asian part and study has shown that Nigeria has a suitable and conducive atmosphere to grow same. The Council in collaboration with the stakeholders on the expansion and promotion of neem products underwent a research work identify how the said plant would help Nigeria and Africa at large.
However, the research carried out by the team of stakeholders states that, the said tree with its versatile use-profile (food and nutrition, medicine and pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, agriculture, ornamentals, environment, etc.) is increasingly being recognized as a very valuable tree on earth. It has been a popular plant in the country where for ages, the leaves root and bark have been exploited for food and medicines for certain oilments. The ability of the plant to thrive well in all the ecological zones of Nigeria gives it added advantage over all other agricultural crops that are ecological and weather dependent in their cultivation and yield. Following the interest of the Nigerian government in 2015, research was conducted on the neem tree and the extent of use in higher institutions and research centres. Data collected was observed that most researches were on use of the plant in agriculture.
The use of extracts of either the neem leaves or seed oil or bark of the root for soil amelioration and adjuvant in livestock, broilers, rabbits, rat feeds: insecticidal, repellant, and anti-feedant effects of neem extracts were reported chemicals studies conducted revealed the presence of carotene, vitamin C, alkaloids, flavonoid, anthraquinone, tannin, saponin, carbohydrates and sapogenins and some elements. While on the medicinal use, researchers reported antimalarial, antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant activities. The toxicological studies conducted reported higher liver and kidney function biochemical parameters especially using fruits extracts. The review revealed duplication of research efforts by researcher across the country and advocated the need for products formulation from neem.
Benefits and uses of neem
Research has identified neem leaves which are commonly known and popularly used by the Indians, are dried and placed in cupboards to prevent insects eating the clothes, and also in tins where rice is stored. The flowers are also used in many Indian festivals like Ugadi. ‘Neem flower rasam’ made of the flower of neem is prepared in Tamil Nadu. In Bengal, young neem leaves are fried in oil with tiny pieces of eggplant (brinjal). The dish is called neem begun bhaja and is the first item during a Bengali meal that acts as an appetizer. It is eaten with rice.
Neem is used in parts of mainland Southeast Asia, particularly in Cambodia, Laos (where it is called kadao), Thailand (where it is known as sa-dao or sdao), Myanmar (where it is known as tamar) and Vietnam (where it is known as sầu đâu and is used to cook the salad gỏi sầu đâu). Even if lightly cooked, the flavour is quite bitter, and the food is not consumed by all inhabitants of these nations. In Myanmar, young neem leaves and flower buds are boiled with tamarind fruit to soften its bitterness and eaten as a vegetable. Pickled neem leaves are also eaten with tomato and fish paste sauce in Myanmar.
Side effects of neem in the body
Research shows that the use of neem is not suitable for all as well as the too much use of it or an overdose could cause harm to one’s health or life. Products made from neem trees have been used in the traditional medicine of India for centuries. Insufficient research has been done to assess such purported benefits of neem. In adults, no specific doses have been established, and short-term use of neem appears to be safe, while long-term use may harm the kidneys or liver; in small children, neem oil is toxic and can lead to death. Neem may also cause miscarriages, infertility, and low blood sugar. There is no scientific evidence to indicate the use of neem for any medical purpose
Neem stands as a pest control
Neem is a key ingredient in non-pesticidal management (NPM), providing a natural alternative to synthetic pesticides. Neem seeds are ground into powder that is soaked overnight in water and sprayed onto the crop. To be effective, it must be applied repeatedly, at least every ten days. Neem does not directly kill insects on the crop. It acts as an anti-feedant, repellent, and egg-laying deterrent and thus protect the crop from damage. The insects starve and die within a few days. Neem also suppresses the hatching of pest insects from their eggs. Neem-based fertilizers have been effective against the pest southern armyworm. Neem cake is often sold as a fertilizer. Neem oil has been shown to avert termite attack as an ecofriendly and economical agent.
Neem oil can be used for polymeric resins
Applications of neem oil in the preparation of polymeric resins have been documented in the recent reports. The synthesis of various alkyd resins from neem oil is reported using a monoglyceride (MG) route and their utilization for the preparation of PU coatings. The alkyds are prepared from reaction of conventional divalent acid materials like phthalic and maleic anhydrides with MG of neem oil.
Other related uses of neem
The neem tree is of great importance for its anti-desertification properties and possibly as a good carbon dioxide sink.
In fertilizers, neem extract is usually added to fertilizers (urea) as a nitrification inhibitor.
It is used for the feeding of animals. Neem leaves can be occasionally used as forage for ruminants and rabbits.
It is used as a safety kit because neem oil and leaves have the ability to cause some forms of toxic encephalopathy and ophthalmopathy if consumed in any quantity.
In conclusion, the report of the research states that the plant is locally available in all part of the country with a lot of economic and industrial potentials yet to be exploited. In the present time of economic hardship due to covid-19 scourge, and with the emphasis of the government on refocusing agriculture and manufacturing, a well-structured development of neem value added products business system will play a significant role in alleviating covid-19 related health issues being a super immune booster, and will also lead to economic growth.No tags for this post.