Neem Articles and Stories
Neem Story 14

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- Umesh

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Neem Story 10

THE IMPORTANCE OF NEEM FOR SUSTAINABLE COFFEE PRODUCTION

- By Dr. Anand Titus and Geeta N. Pereira of ECOFRIENDLY COFFEE

Shade grown coffee plantations are one of India's best kept secrets. These coffee farms are located in tropical belts, where the sun shines strongly, warming the coffee mountain. As such, the coffee farms receive abundant sunlight. The photosynthetic machinery of the three tiered tree canopy makes maximum use of solar radiation with the help of chlorophyll in synthesizing carbohydrates and sugars.


Due to the interplay of various biotic partners inside the coffee forest the biomass production at any given time is relatively high. It is an established fact that organic wastes are building up rapidly in every acre of coffee because of the multi diversity of trees, herbs and shrubs. However, coffee farmers are not in a position to harvest the locked up energy in these substrates. It is not clear just how much of these wastes are now converted into organic fertilizers, or are likely to be converted in the future. Coffee farmers need to be aware that the limitation to the increased productivity of coffee is not the soil nutrients, but the rate of recycling of biomass within the confines of the coffee mountain.

The strength of this article is based on three core ideas.

Field application of neem in different forms acts as a precursor for the stimulation of beneficial micro flora, there by releasing the locked up energy in the accumulated biomass, converting them into energy rich compounds. The key idea rests in the fact that this energy is not only useful for the growth, development and productivity of coffee but serves as a common denominator in nourishing the biotic components of the entire coffee mountain. 

Neem and its derivatives act as PROPHYLATIC [Preventive treatment] agents in the control of pest and disease incidence. 

The addition of neem conserves parasites and predators of insect pests. Infect, the neem environment shapes the predator prey relationship inside the coffee mountain. 

Neem (Azadirachta indica) also known as Melia azadirachta belongs to the family, Meliaceae and is a native of the Indian subcontinent. The agricultural and medicinal importance of this multipurpose tree was known to Indians since centuries. The use of neem in coffee Plantations is not something new. For ages, Coffee farmers have taken advantage of Neem as a soil amendment and insect repellent without understanding its true nature. It is only off late with the latest advancement in science and technology that the various components of neem and its active ingredients have been isolated , thereby enabling the coffee farmers in appreciating the role of neem in regulating the living processes inside the coffee habitat. Today, scientists are of the opinion that every part of the tree has a well defined use.  

The coffee farmer has two advantages with respect to neem, namely availability of large quantities at a reasonable cost and secondly, since neem is available in areas surrounding plantation districts, the transportation cost is minimized.  

FUTURE TRENDS OF NEEM & ITS BY-PRODUCTS 

Regulates nitrogen release from nitrogenous fertilizers.
Bio activity against plant pathogens and pests.
Soil conditioner
Lowers the C: N ratio of soil organic matter.
Enhances the spread and multiplication of beneficial micro flora.
Soil conservation
Excellent source of organic nitrogen.
Exerts behavioural, Physiological and biochemical effects on insects.
Excellent soil amendment.
Non development of resistance of microorganisms towards neem based products.
Harmless nature; against non target organisms.
Lack of any residue problem.
Acts as an excellent input in the use of Integrated Pest Management.
Excellent air purifier as well as wind breaks.
Increases soil fertility and soil water holding capacity.
Neem can balance acidic soils of calcium mines and neutralize them.
Wood is excellent in manufacturing agricultural implements.
Useful tree in rehabilitating waste land areas.
Very effective against global warming.
Toxicants produced during microbial degradation of neem inhibit several stages of pest population.
 

POLICY MATTER


Right from patents, commercialization of neem has flooded the market with thousands of formulations and an even greater number of products. A detailed data base of the various products and the concentration of active ingredients need to be established before field application of neem is carried out.  

The various parts of the neem tree, including the seed are bitter and some parts have a sharp pungent taste. The tree as such is a treasure house of different biologically active compounds which are chemically diverse and structurally stable and complex. The active ingredient Azadirachtin is active against a whole range of harmful insect populations.  

Coffee farmers are under a spell to grow exotic trees like mangium, mesopsis, etc, which mine the precious nutrients from the coffee mountain. Instead, they could grow neem in either paddy fields adjoining the coffee belts or grow it along the bio-fence. Neem is known to have a wide adaptation and tolerance to varied soil and climatic conditions. It does not demand rich soils for its growth and development. It grows successfully on dry stony, clayey soils and can thrive well in leached sandy soils. 

CONSTITUENTS OF NEEM FRUIT  


Neem fruit is a berry which is green when unripe. As ripening progresses the color of the outer skin; pericarp changes from green to yellow. On maturity the fruit is very fleshy and fresh fruit has 40 to 50 % moisture. 40 kilograms of fresh fruit yields 24 kilograms of dry fruit, yielding in turn 11.52 kg pulp, 1.10 kg seed coat, 4.0 kg husk and 5.48 kg kernels. The kernels are the richest source of oil as well as oleo chemicals. Oil and cake constitute nearly 45 and 55 % respectively of neem seed kernels.  

ACTION OF NEEM AGAINST PEST & DISEASE INCIDENCE  


Research data suggests that more than 300 species of insects can be controlled with the help of neem products. In addition neem has promising nematicidal and fungi toxic activity. In India, neem has been evaluated against 125 species of pests of agricultural importance. All parts of the tree are known to be biologically active. The maximum insecticidal activity is in seed kernel. Scientific review of papers shows that neem also possesses insect growth regulatory effect. 

Strong> AGRICULTURAL FORMULATIONS  

Neem is known to contain over 100 biologically active constituents that can be used in various agricultural formulations like Insecticides, Fungicides, Bactericides, Nematicide, and Antiviral compounds. 

According to B. N. Vyas and K.B. Mistry, there is considerable emphasis placed on the development of neem pesticides based on AZADIRACHTIN, which is the most widely evaluated neem compound. However, they are of the opinion that, it may not be advisable to develop a product based on pure Azadirachtin alone because of the following reasons.  

At least 50 neem compounds are reported in literature to possess antifeedant / repellent and / or insect growth regulating activities.  

There is always a danger of development of resistance in insects against a product containing a single active molecule.  

There is hardly any evidence of the antagonistic effects of one neem compound on the other. Literature survey reveals that under many situations, crude or semi purified extracts of seeds give similar results as compared to pure Azadirachtin and in fact, in many situations, crude extracts perform better than Azadirachtin alone based preparations.  

Greater technical skills are required to produce very high concentrations of Azadirachtin in technical grade material which also leads to market escalation cost.  

JOE'S SUSTAINABLE FARM: KIREHULLY ESTATE  


It has been an age old tradition to use various neem products on this farm for the past four decades. Neem has been a central organic amendment in our farm. Oiled as well as deoiled neem cake has been mixed with compost and synthetic urea and the same applied to the farm. However for the past three years we have been procuring fresh neem seeds directly from the farmers and broadcasting the same to the field. The idea behind this change is to stabilize the carbon: nitrogen ratio such that the microbial activity increases and provides for better utilization of organic wastes. The application of neem stimulates soil micro flora. The dense mulch and organic matter on the floor bed of the plantation together with neem increases heterotrophic microbial activity and organic matter decomposition.  

VARIOUS NEEM COMBINATIONS  

FRESH NEEM SEEDS directly broadcasted to the coffee farm  

Drying neem seeds for a period of 15 days and then broadcasting.  

Coarse Powdering of neem seeds with the help of a roller and then broad casting the same.  

Partial Composting of neem seeds with sheep, and poultry litter separately and together for a period of three months (above ground method) together with parchment husk and broadcasting the same to the farm.  

Composting neem seeds with other organic manures by the PIT method (Refer Fine art of composting) for a period of one year and then broadcasting the same.  

Applying commercially available neem cake (oiled and deoiled)  

Mixing neem seeds with urea, rock phosphate and potash and broad casting the same in the month of September.  

[P.N. Points 1 to 7: After broadcasting neem, scuffle digging or deep digging was undertaken, to accelerate the rate of organic matter decomposition]  

LOW COST TECHNOLOGY FOR RAPID MULTIPLICATION OF INDIGENOUS MICROFLORA  

In order to multiply the native micro flora, the following experiment was carried out. For every barrel (180 litters) of water, 10 kilograms of fresh cattle dung was added and the same was allowed to ferment for just one week with constant rotation to facilitate aeration. Also, fresh soil from fertile (trenches) blocks was kept in a shaded place under moist conditions. At weekly intervals, the mixture in the barrel was sprinkled over the neem seeds together with a thin layer of moist soil. The entire heap of neem was manually turned upside down and accordingly broad casted to the coffee farm. 

THE FARM AS A COMPOST BIN: CONCEPT OF EXTENDED COMPOST UNIT  


A new experiment is unfolding at Joe's Sustainable farm. Instead of having location specific compost pits we are experimenting in considering the entire farm as a single extended compost unit. To begin with we have considered 25 acres as one working unit. In time this concept will be extended to the entire farm. Our hypothesis is based on five key ideas. Symbiosis among various biotic partners.  

Ready availability of tons of biomass produced periodically due to leaf shedding from forest trees as well as from coffee bush, herbs & shrubs.  

Presence of associative and free-living micro flora responsible for nitrogen Fixation, phosphorus solubilisation and other organic conversions.  

Presence of succulent weeds (three round of weeding operations are carried out in shade grown Indian coffee farms)  

Shade lopping every two to three years produces woody biomass which is removed from the farm as fuel. Converting woody material into energy rich Compounds are our area of concern.  

MODIFICATION OF SOIL MICROFLORA BY ADDITION OF NEEM  

Since Indian Coffee Plantations are greatly influenced by the FOREST FACTOR, there is a tremendous amount of well scattered biomass which needs to be recycled for the periodic release of nutrients. The unfortunate part is the non availability of a large number of beneficial strains of soil microbes to act on this raw material. Our idea is to create a suitable environment for the accelerated growth and multiplication of different strains of indigenous beneficial microbes which are already present on the farm by the application of neem in different forms. Our experiments prove beyond doubt that it is possible under field conditions to stimulate the micro flora composition by adding neem. Our past experience has pointed out very clearly that the micro flora within the coffee mountain is in equilibrium with the environment and that introduced microorganisms must compete with indigenous micro flora. Hence, our idea of providing a niche for the native soil flora by the addition of neem was to enable them to multiply without stress.  

NEEM AND THE VALUE OF WEEDS  

A healthy soil consists of diverse species of weeds, both monocots and dicots. Indian coffee farms mimic nature and as a result during the monsoon, the farms are covered with an amazingly diverse species of weeds. Our objective is to help coffee farmers realize the value of weeds as an excellent base for the build up of both beneficial microbes and native flora. We manually trim the weeds by the slash method and then broadcast the same, followed by neem application. Our observations point out that this practice increases the macro and micro flora resulting in the availability of mineral nutrients to the soil in a gradual and continuous manner. The most important observation is that the weeds and neem combine together in a symbiotic relationship, changing the soil, leading to the natural progression of different kinds of weeds that are succulent in nature.  

POSITIVE TRENDS OBSERVRED DUE TO REPEATED NEEM APPLICATION  

Improves health and vigour of the plant.
Improves soil fertility, soil texture and porosity.
Improves soil aeration, resulting in well established net work of roots.
Improves the nutrient retaining properties of the soil.
Availability of nutrients in the soluble form coinciding with the growth and development stages of the plant.
Soil micro flora is enriched.
Improved drought tolerance by build up of stable humus, improvement of soil structure and water.
 

The leaf appears dark green and promotes increased photosynthetic activity. Leaf has a thick cuticle which acts as a barrier in preventing insect and microbial attack. The plantation is by and large resistant to attack by insects and microbial pathogens. The size of the coffee beans is uniform and also bigger in size compared to blocks without neem application.  

During monsoons season, if there is no break in rain spells then application of neem controls berry drop.  

During long periods of drought, the soil treated with neem acts as a defence mechanism to protect the overall integrity of the farm.  

Increases the percentage of uniform ripening of beans.
Increases the percentage of flower setting.
Increases the dry matter content of coffee.
Increases honey bee population during flowering.
 

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR RESEARCH  

Application of various forms of neem has been a regular practice at Joe's Sustainable farm for many decades. Our remaining task is twofold. To evaluate the past work and to indicate what the future requires. In the search for methods to enhance neem application, only practices and schemes that have a chance of adoption by a large number of coffee farmers should be seriously considered. Most importantly, the practice of applying neem should fit into the coffee farmer's package of practice.  

CONCLUSION  

In the 21st century the world is considered a global village. However, as the world is shrinking, agriculturists in the developing world are fighting many loosing battles because of the onslaught of multinationals. Every seed or the bio components there in are patented and farmers need to pay a hefty price just to buy them. It's a small world with big battles. John Vidal reports in the GUARDIAN that Global food companies are aggravating poverty in developing countries by dominating markets, buying up seed firms and forcing down prices for staple goods including tea, coffee, milk, bananas and wheat. Just 30 companies now account for a third of the world's processed food; five companies control 75 % of the international grain trade; and six companies manage 75 % of the global pesticide market. Two companies dominate sales of half the world bananas, three trade ; 85 % of the world's tea, and one, Wal-mart, now controls 40 % of Mexico's retail food sector. Monsanto controls 91 % of the global GM seed market. In short, the report highlights how power in the world agriculture and food industry has become concentrated in a few hands. John Samuel of Action Aid says that it is a dangerous situation when so few companies control so many lives.  

Earlier, the story was different. Nature's wisdom book was open for all of humanity. Coffee farmers were a satisfied lot. They used to try out traditional methods and by word of mouth communicate the success of their ingenious experiments. There were no secrets to hide. It took years of patient work to understand the coffee habitat and its needs. Infect, the Indian coffee habitat is a living laboratory which provides a great opportunity to study nature's patterns. With the advent of commercialization, farmers have to pay a hefty price to acquire basic knowledge.  

Due to the global dip in coffee prices, the relationship between the coffee farmer and the coffee habitat too is under stress. In the coming years, due to high pest and disease incidence, we won't be too surprised to see Arabica farms being wiped out from the map of India. Scientists and coffee farmers have no clue as to what needs to be done to resurrect Arabica farms!  

Worldwide, coffee farmers need to think logically towards the balanced exploitation of the coffee mountain resources in accordance with the requirements of the coffee habitat and the biotic partners associated with it. We also need to carefully examine the requirements of the plant environment, internal and external, natural and artificial, short term and long term in achieving a sustainable balance. Technology should aim at strengthening sustainability by building the natural resource base. NEEM and its useful role in coffee farms will definitely help to answer the difficult questions of tomorrow.  

 

 

 












REFERENCES:
Invisible Communications in Coffee Plantations
Endomycorrhizae
Organic Matter Decomposition in Coffee Plantations
The Fine Art of Composting In Coffee Plantations
Farm Coffee Organic Manures
Global Warming in Coffee Plantations
Biodiversity In Relation To Coffee Plantations
Coffee Forest Symbiosis
Significance of Microbial Interactions within Coffee Plantations
Role of Bacteria in Coffee Plantation Ecology
Role of Fungi in Coffee Plantation Ecology
The Role of Actinomycetes in Coffee Plantation Ecology
Microbial Communities
Role of Ectomycorrhizae in Coffee Plantations
Coffee Plantations A Multidisciplinary Approach
The Ecodynamic Coffee Cube 3
 

Arora R. & G.S. Dhaliwal 1994. Botanical pesticides in insect management; Ecological perspectives. In: Management of agricultural pollution in India. (Eds. G.S.Dhailiwal 7 B.D.Kansal). Commonwealth Publishers. New Delhi.  

Battu G.S. Dhaliwal G.S. and A.K.Raheja 1994 Biotechnology; Perspectives in insect pest management. In: Trends in agricultural insect pest management. (Eds. G.S. Dhaliwal and Ramesh Arora). Commonwealth Publishers, New Delhi.  

Benge M.D. 1988. In: Focus on photochemical pesticides. Vol-1. The Neem Tree. (Ed. Martin Jacobson) CRC Press Inc., Boca Raton, Florida.  

Chiu, S.F. (1984), Proc. II Int. Neem Conf. FRG.  

Coffee Guide 2000 Central Coffee Research Institute, Coffee Research Station. Chikmagalur District Karnataka India.  

Claude Alvares 1999. The Organic Farming Source Book. The Other India Press, Mapusa 403 507 Goa, India.  

Hegde N. G. 1992. Neem: Silviculture and production. Neem Newsletter 9: 1-4.  

IARI 1993 Neem in agriculture. Eds B.S. Parmar & R.P. Singh. Res.Bull No.40. Indian Agriculture Research Institute. New Delhi.  

Jacobson M. (1986) 3rd Intern. Work, Conf. Stored Prod. Entomol, Kansas.  

Jacobson, M. (Ed) 1988. Focus on photochemical pesticides. Volume-1. The Neem Tree. CRC Press, Inc. Boca Raton, Florida. U.S.A.  

Karim A. (1980) Proc. 1st Inter, Neem Conf. Rottach - Egern. FRG: 223 - 250.  

Kraus. W. 1991. Constituents of neem and other Meliaceae Species in pest control. Symp. Resources for Sustainable Agriculture: The use of neem and other plant materials for pest control and rural development. East - West centre. Honolulu, Hawaii 96848. U.S.A. Neem Newsletter 8 (3-4): 25.  

Lewis W. H. and Elvin - Lewis, M.P.E. (1983) Eco. Bol. Vol. 37 (1): 69 -70 Locke J.C. & R.H. Lawson.1990 Neem's potential in pest management programs  

Proceedings of the USDA Neem workshop, Beltsville, Maryland.  

Meisner I; Kehi, M; Zur M. and Eizick (1978) Phytoparositica vol. 6:85-88.  

National Research Council 1992. Neem: A tree for solving global problems. National Academy Press. Washington. D.C., U.S.A.  

Randhwa N.S. and B.S. Parmar (Eds) 1993 NEEM Society of Pesticide Science, India New Age International (P) Limited, Publishers. New Delhi.  

Randhwa N.S. and B.S. Parmar (Eds) 2000. Neem research and development. SPS Publication No. 3. Society of Pesticide Science, India.  

Schmutterer H. (1984) Mitteil, ungin aus der Sio, sound. Fur and forst Berlin- Dahlem: 233-333.  

Tewari D. N. 1992. Monograph on neem (Azadirachta indica A.Juss). International Book Distributors, Dehra Dun, India.  

Vyas B. N. and K.B. Mistry. 2000. Processing and Standardization. In NEEM Edited by. N.S. Randhwa and B.S. Parmar. Society of Pesticide Science, India. New Age International (P) Limited, Publishers. New Delhi.  

Neem Story 9

Neem A Holistic Dental Care - A General Overview

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Oral health touches every aspect of our lives but is often taken for granted. Your mouth is a window into the health of your body. It can show signs of nutritional deficiencies or general infection. Systemic diseases, those that affect the entire body, may first become apparent because of mouth lesions or other oral problems. Whether you are 8 or 80, your oral health is important.


Oral health is essential to general health and quality of life. It is a state of being free from mouth and facial pain, oral and throat cancer, oral infection and sores, periodontal (gum) disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, and other diseases and disorders that limit an individual’s capacity in biting, chewing, smiling, speaking, and psychosocial wellbeing.

Worldwide, 60–90% of school children and nearly 100% of adults have dental cavities. Dental cavities can be prevented by maintaining a constant low level of fluoride in the oral cavity. Severe periodontal (gum) disease, which may result in tooth loss, is found in 15–20% of middle-aged (35-44 years) adults. Globally, about 30% of people aged 65–74 have no natural teeth. Oral disease in children and adults is higher among poor and disadvantaged population groups.

One of the greatest gifts of the Sages of Ancient India to mankind is Ayurveda. It is the oldest system of herbal medicine. Ayurvedic herbs have nature's power. The right herb in the right combination keeps the body system in harmony. Teeth are the important most organs of the human body. In the Ayurveda the use of tooth sticks (Meswak) of various plants to clean teeth, is considered very important to maintain dental hygiene. Cleaning teeth with tooth stick for a disease free cavity is not just a mechanical action but has great significance. The active medicinal phytochemicals like alkaloids, flavinoid, fixed oils, tannin etc, present in the chewing stick provide natural protection and helps to maintain the health of teeth and gums. Ayurvedic doctors & herbalists have developed unique Formulated Herbal Tooth Powders for effective and safe treatment of the number of dental diseases based on ancient system of traditional mixture of Ayurvedic herbs. 

Neem twig is traditionally a preferred method for maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Neem is one of the most highly recommended plants in Ayurveda for oral hygiene. The neem tooth stick, a small stem piece with bark, shows antibacterial, antiseptic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory activity. It contains phytochemicals like Nimbin, Nimbidin, Nimbosterol, Essential oils, Steroids, Coumarin, Hydrocarbons, Sulphur compounds, Phenolics, Flavinoid, Flavonoglycosides, Tannins and Margosin. These phytochemicals act on gingivitis, pyorrhoea and control bleeding and pain. They also effectively check the continuous process of deposition of plaque and gelatinous polysaccharides, sticky matrix substances. 

The bark and the sap within the twig are known not only for their cleaning ability but also for protecting the mouth. Such is its prominence in Indian society, that many researchers believe that these Neem twigs have helped rural Indians avoid cavities, despite limited access to modern dental care. 

Neem has a unique three-in-one therapeutic effect with three tastes, which are astringent, pungent and bitter. The astringent taste strengthens the loose teeth and gums. It also reduces excess salivation, heals the ulcer and removes sticky materials present in the oral cavities. The astringent taste of neem is due to its tannin contents. The pungent taste stimulates the taste buds to accept the different tastes of the food. It eradicates toxins deposited in the tartar. The bitter taste increases appetite. It cleans the tartar, improves the voice, reduces excess salivation, and eradicates pus and toxins deposited on the surface of the enamel.  

The bitter and astringent tastes of neem balance the alkaline pH of the buccal cavity to protect the enamel from acidic pH attacking the outer calcified layer. The neem remains active and effective for a quite a few hours maintaining the alkaline pH and protecting the enamel from carcinogenic bacteria’s like streptococci and lacto bacilli. Using a Neem tooth stick for oral hygiene provides additional benefit of protection of different digestive organs like liver, stomach etc. 

Effect of chewing sticks of neem on dental health has been attributed to presence of fluorides. In one of the studies it was reported that 20% w/v aqueous extracts of a neem chewing-stick yielded 2.8 ppm fluoride. Presence of fluoride has been reported to prevent accumulation of bacteria on teeth. Neem in “in vitro” studies has also shown inhibition of Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes and anaerobes. These "in vitro" studies support the anti plaque potentiality of neem. 

The fresh tooth stick, a soft straight branch of neem tree about 15 cms long and as thick as the little finger provides freshness not only to teeth and gums but also helps to maintain the homeostasis for the entire body system. Even one can use leaf stalk (defoliated thin stick). Just chewing the whole stalk will also serve the purpose. For those not inclined to chew neem twigs (tooth sticks), toothpaste and mouthwash containing neem are now available. Neem has been used as a component of toothpastes, mouthwashes, food compositions, for gingivitis and reducing caries as well as for the treatment of inflammation of the mouth. As a natural flavouring agent it is used in oral compositions for treating plaque and gingivitis. It has also been used as a component of chewing gum containing a teeth whitening agent.  

Brushing with Neem toothpaste after every meal and using a mouthwash with Neem extract is recommended treatment for preventing gingivitis. In a study, Neem-based mouth rinse was given to patients for assessing anti-plaque and anti- gingivitis activity. The findings conclude that Neem mouth rinse is as effective as chlorhexidine in reducing periodontal indices.  

Some important studies reports:  

Ahmad, et al. used micro-sized particles or micro fibers of branches or roots of Azadirachta commonly known in different parts of the world as the peelu, Meswak tree. They used these particles in place of commonly used mineral abrasives. 

Schaller in his patent (U.S. Pat. No. 4,223,003) used neem oil as one of the optional components of their paste and powder dentifrices. 

Miller S. E. and Simone A. J. reported formulation of chewing sticks made from natural fibers. They suggested use of neem oil but no claim to its properties was made. Also no description of extraction of oil or plant parts used was given. 

Nabi et al reported a formulation comprising thymol and Eugenol, and optionally a sesquiterpene alcohol. They claimed the formulation to have plaque and gingivitis effects. They suggested use of neem oil to provide an organoleptically acceptable oral product. 

Seabrook, Jr. et al. suggested use of neem seed, leaf, bark extracts and oil in their formulations of polymers containing antimicrobial agents. They suggested that the antimicrobial agents include phytochemicals and phyto-nutrients such as naturally occurring extracts from plants and herbs and other chemical disinfectants. 

Some of the more recent work has focused on oral care. Extracts from neem sticks or bark have been shown to inhibit the growth of streptococcus mutans bacteria. A study at the University of California by Wolinsky LE, Mania S, Nachnani S, Ling S. indicates that neem stick extract showed significant reductions in bacterial adhesion in vitro, suggesting that it can reduce the ability of some streptococci to colonize at the tooth surfaces. 

A study was done at Dept. of Pedodontics & Preventive Dentistry, College of Dental Surgery, Manipal, India by Vanka A, Tandon S, Rao SR, Udupa N, Ram Kumar P., to find the antibacterial effect of Neem mouthwash against salivary levels of streptococcus mutans bacteria and lactobacillus. The study has been conducted over a period of 2 months. Also its effect in reversing incipient carious lesions was assessed. Streptococcus mutans bacteria were inhibited by Neem mouthwashes, with or without alcohol as well as chlorhexidine, lactobacillus growth was inhibited by chlorhexidine alone. The initial data appears to prove its effect in inhibiting S. mutans and reversing incipient carious lesions. 



Neem Story 8

Neem Coated Textile - A Review

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Textile products are prone to host micro-organisms responsible for diseases, unpleasant odours, color degradation and deterioration of textiles. Antimicrobial textiles can be used to produce many goods such as sportswear, outdoor apparels, undergarments, shoes, furnishings, upholstery, hospital linens, wound care wraps, towels and wipes. Self-sterilizing fabrics could have potential benefits to reduce disease transfers among hospital populations, bio warfare protection and other applications. Infection control is the main concern in regards to the garments worn close to the skin.

Antimicrobial textiles with improved functionality got variety of applications in such garments. A range of textile products based on synthetic antimicrobial agents such as triclosan, metal and their salts, organometallics, phenols and quaternary ammonium compounds, have been developed and quite a few are also available commercially. With the increase in new antimicrobial fibre technologies and the growing awareness about cleaner surroundings and healthy lifestyle, the synthetic antimicrobial agents are a cause of great concern due to the associated side effects. Although they are very effective against a range of microbes and give a durable effect on textiles but the action on non-target microorganisms and water pollution are the minus points.

The use of Natural Antimicrobial agents for bioactive textiles is an emerging area of research. Eco-friendly antimicrobial agents based textile will reduce effectively the bad effects associated with the synthetic antimicrobial agents but also improve the environment. This type of cloths will be of great importance especially for the people suffering from skin problems.

Natural bioactive agents with antimicrobial properties have become increasingly important for biofunctionalisation of textile fibres because they enable the production of safe, non-toxic, skin and eco-friendly bioactive textile products. These antimicrobial compounds, which are mostly extracted from plants, includes Phenolics and polyphenols (simple phenol, Phenolic acids, quinines, flavinoid, Flavanols, tannins and coumarines), terpeniods, essential oils, alkaloids, lectins, polypeptides and polyacetylene.

There is a great demand for the fabrics having antimicrobial finishes to protect human being against microbes.  These fabrics will be of great interest and importance. The application of antimicrobial textile include a wide range of textile products for medical, technical, industrial, home furnishing and apparel sectors.

A number of commercial antimicrobial agents have been introduced in the market. Recent developments on Chitosan (a naturally occurring biopolymer) have opened up new avenues in this area of research; it aims at developing an eco friendly natural antimicrobial finish from plant extracts for textile application. Some selective species of plants were identified and screened for their activity and the extracts were applied to cotton fabrics.

Leading newspaper The Indian Express published a report about a new approach to make antimicrobial textiles by incorporating the active principle of plant extracts with fabric. This work was carried out by Dr Thilagavathi and Mr. Rajendrakumar of the Department of Textile Technology, PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore and Mr. Rajendran of Department of Microbiology, PSG College of Arts and Science, Coimbatore. They explored the possibilities of using extracts of neem, prickly chaff flower and pomegranate on fabrics as antimicrobial agent.

An extensive study was conducted to assess the antimicrobial effectiveness of these herbs by employing standard test methods and the findings are discussed in this paper. Fresh leaves of neem and prickly chaff flower were shadow dried and made into a fine powder. In the similar way, the fine powder of pomegranate rind was obtained. Extracts of respective herbal powder were obtained by treating with methanol at room temperature resulting in active substance being dissolved in methanol.

Two test organisms namely; Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli were used for the study. The activity of neem and pomegranate treated fabric samples against both the test organisms from the zone of inhibition, it is indicated that the antimicrobial activity of neem treated sample is stronger than pomegranate treated sample for both test cultures.

While testing the antimicrobial activity of Neem, Pomegranate, Achyranthus aspera as tested by Parallel Streak method for S.aureus, a complete plate clearance was observed for neem treated fabric samples. The zone of inhibition is moderate for pomegranate and mild for Achyranthus treated fabric samples.

In the case of the antimicrobial activity of Neem, Pomegranate and Achyranthus aspera as tested by Parallel Streak method for E-coli, the same trend is observed for neem treated fabric samples yielding a complete plate clearance whereas the activity is moderate for pomegranate and mild in the case of Achyranthus aspera. In the test against E-coli in AATCC bacteriostasis broth, the uninoculated control, inoculated control and inoculated finished samples were evaluated for percentage bacterial reduction by cell counting using templates. It was observed that neem has 100% bacterial reduction followed by pomegranate with 90% reduction and Achyranthus with 82% reduction. Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), which showed no activity in the preliminary tests, exhibited a bacterial reduction of 73% in the challenge test. From the studies conducted, Neem exhibited maximum antimicrobial activity in all tests.

In an another study was conducted at Department of Textile Technology, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, on possible application of Neem extract on textiles as antibacterial finishing agent, revealed that Neem seed and bark extracts have a good potential to be used as an eco-friendly and effective agent for antibacterial finishing of cotton and cotton/polyester based textiles. It is found that the seed extract retains the antibacterial activity up to the five machine washes, which is equivalent to approximately 25 home launderings.

Nirmal Pal, who is a Textile Engg, and is Chief Executive Officer of NKP-Engineers & IPRs Consultants, Kolkata has developed NEEM MEDICATED TEXTILES. Best Neem leaves were collected from the eastern Indian tropical region. Solution was made by mixing raw turmeric in appropriate proportion to the neem leaf extract, and suitably filtered out to make a clear solution like vegetable dye-solution. Cotton Socks, Stockings, Panty, Bra, and other inner garments were sterilized in autoclave at 100 degree Celsius for 15 minutes and kept immersed in Neem – turmeric extract solution for certain period of time under pressure. Then cloths were dried. The same procedure was repeated for 3 times in warm condition for the proper penetrate of the neem particle. Fixing agent was used in order to withstand 10 washing at least in Luke warm water. The inner garments were used by normal people and patients’ with skin diseases. The products were sent in Europe to intimate friends who informed that they noticed positive effect of the garments on their skins. There were no spots and no mark due to non-availability of sunlight on their inner bodies. 

They displayed their products and conducted awareness in the India International Trade Fair (IITF-2004  and in 2005) organized by ITPO, New Delhi .Many enquiries came from France, Brazil, Ivory Coast, China and African continents. They are doing further research work in the development of Neem coated Garment using Nano-Technology. 

In a study done by E M El Khatib, N F Ali, R S R El-Mohamedy at National Research Centre, El Buhouth St., Dokki, Cairo, Egypt, on the influence of Neem Oil Pre-treatment on the Dyeing and Antimicrobial Properties of Wool and Silk Fibers with Some Natural Dyes. Wool and silk fibers were pre-treated with neem oil and dyed with chlorophyll, saffron red and yellow natural dyes using economic methods such as microwave heating and ultrasonic energy. They found that, wool and silk fibers pre-treated with neem oil recorded higher color strength values than the untreated fibers. Fastness properties and the color yield of the dyes under investigation on wool and silk fibers were evaluated. The results indicated that, color fastness to rubbing, washing and perspiration of all dyes was excellent to good. The antimicrobial activity against bacteria and fungi were tested, and the results indicated that the samples pre-treated exhibited higher inhibition percent than the untreated fibers. The morphologies structure of the untreated and treated wool fibers were examined by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The untreated samples have a rough surface. The pre-treated samples of wool fibers were swelling compared to the untreated fibers .The diameter of the fibers increased and have smooth and even surfaces. The changes in the surface morphology due to the effect of active ingredients of treatment with neem oil. This behaviour as swelling and increase in diameter of the fibers leads to high penetration of the dyes in the fibers.




Synthesis of Chitosan incorporated neem seed extract (Azadirachta indica) for medical textiles by T.RevathiS. & Thambidurai

International Journal of Biological Macromolecules
Volume 104, Part B, November 2017, Pages 1890-1896

In present study, eco-friendly biosynthesis of Chitosan–Neem seed (CS-NS) composite was prepared by co-precipitation method using aqueous neem seed extract. Cotton fabrics were treated with two different cross linking agents (Glutaraldehyde and Citric acid) then the synthesized composite coated on cotton fabric by chemical linkage between the composite and the cellulose structure. As synthesized composite materials and treated cotton fabrics were characterized by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy for functional groups confirmation, X-ray diffraction for crystalline behaviour determination, UV–viz spectroscopy analysis for optical property and High resolution scanning electron microscopy for Surface morphological properties. The antibacterial activity of CS-NS composite coated cotton fabric and CS-NS composite coated cotton fabric with cross linking agents were tested against the gram-positive and gram negative bacteria by agar well diffusion method. The results demonstrated that CS-NS composite with cross linked coated cotton fabric has higher antibacterial activity than without cross linked cotton fabric. Thus the Chitosan-neem seed composite may be applied to the medical textiles.

It's no surprise that designers are experimenting with sustainable fabric when it comes to innerwear. And it's not just any eco-friendly material. Lingerie fashioned from fabric soaked in turmeric, dipped in neem and infused with Indian madder (a flowering plant) is making its way from southern India's shores to boutiques in Britain and online stores in Australia and Japan.

Christine Snow, who lives in Bath, UK, supplies herb-infused undies to 20 outlets and three online stores. The beneficial properties of natural plant extracts are slowly released and absorbed into the skin when the cloth comes into contact through body heat, she claims. Indian madder has anti-inflammatory properties and is good for skin disorders, according to her. "The herb also gives the cloth its lovely pink hue," says Snow. "Neem is renowned for its antiseptic properties and gives relief from eczema and skin irritations," she adds. Snow sells Indian madder, neem, and turmeric knickers, at £10 each (Rs 820), on her website, www.keralacrafts.co.uk. Other products include herb-infused shawls and scarves.

The fabric is sourced from Balaramapuram, the garments are designed by Snow, and women of an NGO in Kerala make them. "There has been a good 'marriage' between traditional Indian craftsmanship using styles that are marketable in the UK," says Snow.

Neem Story 7

My own personal story about Psoriasis and Neem

- By Klaus Ferlow, Master Herbalist & Herbal Advocate, West Vancouver, B.C., Canada

My own personal experience with neem has been nothing short of miraculous. Growing-up in the northern part of Germany “country style” I quickly developed a love for the bounty of Mother Nature, especially herbs, fruits, flowers, vegetables. One of my favorite herbs was the “stinking rose” garlic, which I considered a wonder herb. Also pure elderberry juice with honey and lemon juice, heated-up for bringing down fever, enhancing the healing power of the body by boosting the immune system. At a young age of seventeen after the school, I moved away from my family home in a small farm village to start apprenticeship in sales and marketing. My new home was in a big city situated in a heavy industrial commercial area with huge steel mills and mining corporations. Due to the stress of being for the first time by myself and the completely different diet and lifestyle in an environment of widespread pollution – many times you could not even see the sun at daytime – and high level of noise I soon developed severe psoriasis on my scalp and both elbows. At times my psoriasis was flaring up when being under constant stress to a point when I even had difficulties combing my dark black hair because of thick build-up on my scalp and elbows. I received ongoing treatments from allopathic doctors in Germany and later in Canada who did not have a clue what the cause of my problem was, and all these treatments cost me a lot of money which I had to pay them out of my own pocket, but they were totally unsuccessful. After over 40 years suffering from psoriasis I finally gave up and was told by the doctors that I had to live with it for the rest of my life! Then, early in 1994, I had the good fortune of tuning into the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Toronto, Ontario television series “The Nature of Things” with Dr. David Suzuki, which featured a program describing the miraculous versatile medicinal neem tree from India inclusive for chronic skin diseases. This was the impetus to my healing, as I began with the help and training of a professional chemist, to develop a neem cream without harmful toxic ingredients, using neem extract from the leaves of the tree. The extract came from a supplier I found in France, since at a time nobody in North America had any knowledge about the neem tree and therefore was unable to supply such an extract to me. For almost nine weeks my wife massaged the cream onto my scalp, and finally by the end of the tenth week my scalp was totally clear of the conditions from which I had suffered for so long! In the meantime I added cold pressed neem oil derived from the kernels of the fruit of the tree which has different healing properties than the extract from the leaves. This further enhanced the efficacy and healing power of the cream. Even my psoriasis on both elbows disappeared with merely three weeks by using a neem oil and by using one drop of oil a week it prevents the development of psoriasis. With the next step a neem shampoo and neem conditioner, soap, tincture and toothpaste was developed. I alleviated my problem and I am now free of psoriasis and in charge of my own health and body! Mother Nature at work! With over 25 years experience working with neem I have published in 2016 my book “Neem – Nature's Healing Gift to Humanity”, see: https://www.amazon.in/book-neem-natures-healing/dp/0993727506 LONG LIVE THE NEEM TREE! Thank you for your attention!

Neem Story 6

Wood Carvers to Shift to Neem Tree

- 14 Feb 2008 172 news, social

The future of the wood carving industry in Ghana was becoming bleak due to the lack of targeted tree species, The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said in Aburi. It said the target tree species used as raw materials for carving and most sought for such as Ebony (Diospyros), Ossese (Horlarrhenia floribunda), Kuasia (Nauclea diderichii) and Dante (Nesogordpnia Papaverifera) were virtually depleted in the natural forests. "These species have become rare and locally extinct in certain areas in Ghana, threatening the well-being of the wood carvers who depend on them for livelihood," Mr. Mustapha Seidu, Assistant Forest Programme Officer, West Africa Regional Programme Office (WARPO) said. He was addressing carvers of the Aburi Industrial Centre at an inception workshop on "Alternative Carving Wood for Sustainable Livelihood Project" in Aburi. The project, funded by the French Embassy in Ghana, is aimed at creating awareness of the status of the traditional wood species for the carving industry; the changing trends of the wood carving market and to build capacity for the use of alternative wood species for the carving industry. The project would facilitate a shift from the use of the fast diminishing preferred species to suitable fast growing species such as Neem tree that could sustain the increasing demands of the wood carving industry. Mr Seidu said in recent times wood carvers have to travel as far as Akim-Oda and Obuasi to obtain the needed tree species for their work. "The livelihood of woodcarvers could be jeopardized if buyers begin to boycott products that cannot be proved to originate from raw materials derived from certified sustainable managed sources," he said. Mr Seidu said it was for this reason that a sustainable alternative wood such as Neem was needed so that plantations would be developed with the necessary farm forestry certification procedures followed. "Supporting the wood carving industry to ensure reliable sources of raw materials, improve skills and better access to the global market will help to save the forest, guarantee the livelihood of wood carvers and therefore alleviate their poverty," he said. Mr. Abraham Baffoe, WAFPO Forest Programme Leader said illegal logging was the main threat to the sustainability of the forest and therefore called for prudent measures that would help the forest to regenerate. Mr Julien Morel, Co-ordinator, Fund for Social Development, French Embassy, expressed the hope that the project would change the wood carving industry in Ghana and make it more sustainable. The goal of the fund, he said was to fight poverty, gender inequality and youth unemployment. Mr Abbey Emmanuel, President, Aburi Industrial Centre, thanked WWF-WAFPO and the French Embassy for their support saying the Centre would embrace the neem tree concept since there were already large track of neem tree across the country.


He admitted that the export market had slackened since the September 11 disaster that hit America and that it had been very difficult to penetrate the European markets due to their strict restrictions relating to wood products.


Neem Story 5

Forestation Projects & Neem Tree Planting

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Altos de los Mores, because of its location in northern Peru, is a coastal desert! There are not many trees, there are virtually no government sponsored tree initiatives, and the place is hot, barren, and full of sand. Walking through this area on a typical day is tortuous, due to the extreme heat and sun. This area is in desperate need of trees, but again, not too many trees can thrive in these conditions.


One tree that was introduced to Piura, Peru in the last 20 years is the “Neem Tree.” The Neem tree was brought to a university in Peru, from India. It has been used in India for centuries and is known as “the pharmacy of the poor,” because it offers over 150 medicinal remedies ranging from malaria, colds & fevers, to diabetes. It is anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and dermatological. Apart from these amazing benefits, the tree itself can withstand harsh desert conditions, grows incredibly fast, and big, providing the desperately needed shade in this community.



The first goal of our tree planting projects was to address the lack of trees and shade in the area by planting Neem and other native trees, and the secondary goal is to teach the community to use the neem tree’s medicinal remedies to cure many of their common ailments. Most families cannot afford to see a doctor or purchase medicine, so the sad reality is that many go untreated, suffer, and sometimes die.

With the neem tree right outside their doors, community members can now start using the leaves to make tea to cure a host of illnesses, or use the stem to clean their teeth, or boil the leaves to apply to inflamed or infected skin. Please note though, that while adults can drink 3-7 leaves daily, children are NOT TO INGEST the neem as it can cause serious damage and even death to them. Children can however use the neem dermatologically, to cure even the severest of skin infections (which are common due to a lack of nutrition and hygiene). After 5 days of applying neem directly to the skin via crushed leaves or boiled neem water, several children have been cured of nasty and persistent open skin rashes & infections.



Since the end of 2001, AYNI has planted approximately 8,000 to 10, 00 neem trees and other native trees like the tamarind in the community of Alto de los Mores. Not only have these trees benefitted this particular community by giving shade, and lowering the temperature, they are also contributing to an increase in oxygen of the planet, and are helping to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Each year we continue to forest the area, so eventually all streets and houses will be lined with this beautiful landscape.



Others potential opportunities that could be explored include exporting neem to manufacturers that can process it into neem related products i.e. toothpaste, face creams, oils, shampoos etc. This area has not yet been explored, but volunteers are encouraged to investigate the possibilities.


“On a personal note, I myself drink neem tea all the time to cure sore throats, abdominal bloating, constipation, colds, as well as use it on my face to reduce the bags under my eyes! I dried the leave, brought them back with me and use them regularly. I swear it kept me healthy during swine flu season.” -Margie Orsi


Neem Story 4

Ghana’s Success Story- A Backyard Neem Tree Inspires New Pharmaceuticals

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Since graduating from university in 1984, Isaac Bohulu had been a pharmacist in Accra, Ghana including six years spent at Hoffmann-La Roche, the Swiss-based international pharmaceutical company. But he always was an entrepreneur at heart, especially after gaining his Masters’ Degree in Business Administration (MBA) with a marketing focus.


Believe Begin Become Business Plan Competition Kick-starts Natural Scientific Pharmaceuticals Company

In 2006 he learned about Techno Serve’s Believe Begin Become (BBB) Business Plan Competition in Ghana. He had already planned to start his own natural medicine business so his goals then became to win some money to jump start the new idea as well as receive some practical training. Isaac was a top 20 finalist, receiving $15,000 cash and $10,000 in services to start testing Neemfresh, an herbal mouthwash using extracts of leaves (and other parts) from a large Neem tree in his backyard!

Though most of the [Believe Begin Become] training theories were not new to me,” Isaac states, “now I am implementing better business practices, such as separately tracking business vs. personal expenses. Besides the prizes, there were many other useful aspects: learning the importance of networking; maintaining key relationships; exchanging new ideas; exposure to different expertise; and problem solving. I especially enjoyed mentoring “young ones” with less experience. Techno Serve and my BBB colleagues are resources when I need help; they have opened doors and linkages to new funding and other resources.” As sounding boards, linkages to new clients and area-expertise among other things, members of Isaac’s peer network— thanks to Techno Serve–have had been his best counsellors. 

In 2007 Isaac obtained a business license to build a lab/manufacturing space in a separated bedroom of his house. Most of the BBB cash prize went toward processing equipment (e.g., water pumps, filtration system, and refrigeration); bottles for the products; and his lab/manufacturing addition. His services money paid for a media company to create product ads. He has been very busy honing the formula with feedback from his pilot customers to successfully apply to Ghana’s food and drug board for certification of Neemfresh mouthwash. 

As of February 2009, Isaac still ensures his family income and cash flow for Natural Scientific Pharmaceuticals by working weekdays for a private insurance company, then weekends and evenings on his herbal products. With the help of three sales reps, a factory worker, and his own marketing knowledge, he has focused on recruiting Neemfresh customers from dental-related groups. For example he has done a presentation to the Accra Dental Association so now some private dental clinics are using his product and the local dental school and a nearby hospital are interested in trials. Also, he is advertising on targeted-demographic radio (e.g., with professional and trendy young listeners who care about their appearance), and promoting Neemfresh’s competitive advantage of ensuring both healthy gums and teeth. 

Diverse Nature-Inspired Products


Natural Scientific Pharmaceuticals offers discerning customers high quality, herb-and-plant-derived choices rather than industrial-chemical-based products. As Isaac’s company expands sales and facilities to reach his 5-year goal, he could require as many as 20 employees for running the factory floor, administration and sales. Certainly as a growing small business, his new staff, suppliers, revenues and taxes will impact local, regional and national economies. All these factors are positive for Ghana’s medical health and communities’ welfare. 

Mentoring Key to His Success


Naturally realistic yet optimistic, Isaac has been laying the foundation for his company’s long-term success. He’s begun to pilot test more herbal products such as a nasal spray decongestant for ongoing sinusitis and a body cream using shea butter and herbs. All his products are sold directly, through word of mouth and targeting key customer environments like dental clinics. With support from his BBB alumni network, he has set pragmatic business goals for Natural Scientific Pharmaceuticals for the next year and several years out by which time he plans to more than double revenues. In order to make a profit with strong inventory turnover, Isaac’s top priorities are to enforce Accounts Receivable for goods already sold; establish bigger manufacturing and warehouse space; create and implement the right strategy to develop and commercially launch multiple health-care products; and leverage venture capital money to sustain operations and buy additional equipment. Thanks to Isaac’s BBB colleagues, he knows “I now pick up the phone to ask for help. I’ve learned never to ‘go it alone’.” 

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Neem Story 3

A STORY OF A WALKING STICK

- ENGLISH SHORT STORY PUBLISHED ON NOVEMBER 26, 2014 BY JAYANTI SHINGE

This is the story of man's cruelty. The painful yet beautiful story of the journey of a walking stick. It takes us through its beautiful life and introduces us to the world of trees




I help old people to walk. I am the one who support them while walking. It gives me lot of happiness. Can you guess who I am? Yes, you are correct I am a Walking Stick. I am the need of all old people who cannot manage themselves on their legs without help. I give them support so that they can walk with their heads held high.

The story of my birth goes seventy years back. I still remember I was a beautiful Neem Tree. There were many different kinds of trees around me. I had a lot of friends. We used to talk with each other. The chirping birds were our inhabitants. They had many nests on our branches. And early in the morning we used to get up by their melodious chirping. It was really very beautiful to see the small ones learn the flying lessons. I still remember those days. My friends used to say that I was the most beautiful and mighty tree in the vicinity. They loved and revered me. And I loved them too. I had a very huge canopy of branches. I was a kind of village in itself. Travellers used to rest under my shade. They used to choose me as I was very thick and sun rays could not easily pass through my canopy. I felt very humbled and special when the travellers or the birds or the animals came under my care. My heart use to swell with pride. The travellers used to get relieved with the cool breeze that I used to fan them. They used to relax themselves, eat their food, drank water and then again start their journey. It was such a pleasure.

Things have changed now. Man has become materialistic. People don’t walk places anymore. People in my time used to walk to different villages. It used to take them three to four days if the village is far. But things have changed drastically now. Everything has got wheels. Life has become more precise, practical, fast and luxurious. The number of birds has reduced and also the animals. Man has encroached everywhere; he has even snatched the habitat of these precious animals and trees. He is cutting trees for his own benefit. My brothers and sisters are being cut everyday for their tall buildings, malls and complexes. Man has been a very selfish creature. He does not think about anything except himself and his happiness. One day they will have to repay with the harm they have done to us. 

I am a Neem Tree; every part of mine is very helpful to man. I inhale carbon dioxide in the morning and give out oxygen and in the night the procedure is reverse. My leaves and trunk are highly useful for medicinal purpose. Though I served man with every part of mine, one fine day I was killed. I was cut with a machine as they wanted to clear the path for building a flyover. It was very painful to see my sons and daughters my branches being cut in front of me and I could not do anything but just cry loudly. I was separated from my wife my roots. She was the foundation of my life. She gave her entire life nursing and feeding and taking care of us. She saved me and children from floods and storms she held us tight and united with the soil and thus helped us flourish for seventy years. I was so huge that they had to cut me into many pieces to carry me from my birthplace. The nests fell down and the unborn birds died before they could fly in the open air. Their parents cried with horror but could not do anything but just cry their hearts out. Every small insect which lived on my huge trunk got crushed. A rare kind of machine called a crane lifted my parts to drive me to a timber yard. 

I was lying in parts; they had to make four trips to shift me completely to the timber yard. I was very angry with “MAN”. I hated him. But a voice, a rare one a very beautiful voice reached my ears. And it was God, he said, “Son! Don’t cry, you have served me well these many years, and I am very happy with your services you delivered to mankind. You have lived your life well and enjoyed it too. You still have many things to accomplish. Don’t cry as you were born to deliver. You were born to deliver your love and affection to my people. I know mankind has become selfish but one fine day I will make them realize what they have lost. I have chosen you, your wife and your sons and daughters for a unique job. I want you to be a helping hand to the old people. Many of them cannot walk. And their children have no time for them. I want you to become their support. Become their hope, their strength, their desire and a friend. You help them rise in their ripened age. Make them happy. Help them smiling when they have lost everything.” 

I listened to God with my family and felt that we are privileged to have been chosen by God for a wonderful job. My leaves and the skin of my trunk and branches were peeled off and were sent to the factories which needed them. And then I was cut into thin and thick planks and then sent to factory which made walking sticks. They could make around three hundred sticks from me and my family. With the left out wood beautiful toys for kids were also made. I was polished with beautiful hue. And my family members too were looking very charming dipped in beautiful and vibrant colors. 

When I was dry and ready to be packed, all the three hundred sticks were packed and sent a very big mall. There was a particular shop in the mall called, “Woody! Woody!” This shop housed all the crafts made out of wood. I met many old friends of mine in the shop. It was long time they were separated from me. Some of them were beautiful couches, some cupboards, some pots and some toys. They were delighted to see us after many days. I was very beautifully laid on the racks of the shop. I was shelved in such a way that I could easily be seen by the customers. Their hung a tag on my neck. My neck was decorated with a golden lining. I was looking very handsome and beautiful. 

It was on the third day that an old man walked in our shop. He had seen me from outside, that is through the window. He was accompanied by his granddaughter a very cute little chubby girl. I knew he liked me and I am going to be picked by him. He came straight to me and bought me off though before buying me he tried to walk using me in the shop to check if I was fine for him. He finally paid the amount and took to my new abode. I was happy as well as sad. I was happy as I would be going to a new place to deliver my services to an old man. And thus I would be listening to God and make him proud and on the other hand I was very sad thinking of my family and my friends. I blew kisses to my family and friends and started my job. I have been rendering services to my master. His name is, Mr. John Steve. He is 75. He loves me as he carries me everywhere. Both of us go walking and spend a lot of time together. I love my job as I bring relief and happiness to this man. When I go for walking I meet my friends and family members who stay in the neighbourhood. Life is beautiful……especially when we help the needy, and bring happiness and smiles to other faces. Thank you God! For helping me identify myself…A WALKING STICK… 

--Jayanti Dattatreya Shinge

Neem Story 2

Inspirational Story Of A Boy And Neem Tree: Nimai Forever

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Shyamal was looking affectionately at Nimai from his bed. He had been in bed with typhoid for a month and Nimai had been his best companion all the time. He could hardly think of a more enchanting scene than handsome and elegant Nimai standing erect, holding his head high against the background of the shining blue sky. He could almost hear his grandfather’s voice in the murmur of the small green leaves and the long, spreading branches of Nimai, telling how Hindus believe that a few drops of heavenly nectar fell on the neem tree, and that is why it makes people free from diseases.




After retiring as the Director of a multinational company, he found the greatest pleasure of life in reading books on India’s culture, literature, and mostly India’s vast wealth of trees and plants, and nobody could stop him when the subject was neem tree. He could talk endlessly on the applications of each and every part of the tree in Indian Medicine. The seed oil and soap made there from can be used very effectively in various skin diseases like indolent ulcers, ringworms, and in rheumatism. The bark is used as tincture. People say it is beneficial in malaria as well. Grandpa always used the fresh tender twigs to clean his teeth, and the children of the house learnt to do so. Grandma and mother always kept dried neem leaves in books, paper and clothes to protect them. ‘Neem-begun’, or leaves of neem fried with small pieces of brinjal, was a favourite dish of the whole family which was eaten as prevention for pox.

In his childhood, once grandpa had smallpox and his mother used to comfort the burning with neem leaves. He often told Shyamal, his most obedient listener, that the neem leaves still reminded him of his mother’s affectionate touch.

The tree shade was the place where the old man enjoyed happiness and bore sorrows. When the grandsons and daughters were born, their naming (‘namakaranam’) ceremonies and all birthday parties were celebrated here. His love for nature was reflected in the names of grandchildren Banani, Banashree, and Shyamal. 

When uncles were married, the new brides were welcomed under the tree. 

On Diwali, the first lamp had always been lit there. 

Shyamal remembered the day forever when the news came that his grandma had died for heart attack at his uncle’s place, Mysore. The old man didn’t utter a word, but resorted to his Nimai. He sat there the whole day like a statue, perhaps trying to get the strength to beat the heart-breaking loss from his age-old companion, while the other had departed forever. 

And his end also came so suddenly and silently. He was sitting outside even after it was dark and Shyamal’s mother sent him to call grandpa. At first Shyamal thought that grandpa was dozing and he tried to wake him up. “Grandpa, your time of chatting with Nimai is up.” His head bent down on the chest by Shyamal’s touch, and suddenly the child realized that the time has been over indeed, while one or two leaves were still falling in the old man’s lap. 

So far, Shyamal was completely lost in his thoughts, looking at the slim and shiny leaves, which had been always his favourite pastime. He was a sentimental and thoughtful boy, very much after his grandfather, but his materialistic engineer father never liked this. 

Neem Story 1

My Mother’s Neem Tree

- Samanvitha Rao

It started with a tree.

When I was three years old my parents bought an 8000 sq. ft. plot of land in the coastal town of Surathkal in southern India and built a large home. Around the house they planted six coconut trees, three mango trees and several other tropical fruit trees including guava, chickoo, banana, jackfruit, and a large variety of flowers and decorative plants.




However, after retirement, the harsh summers and the relentless monsoon rains of the Arabian Sea coast drove them to my mother’s hometown of Mysore with its milder climate. There they procured a modest 2000 sq. ft. piece of land and built a manageable little abode. Downsizing and rightsizing was all fine and dandy, but my Mom sure missed her trees. Taking inspiration from a noted local environmentalist, Saalumarada Thimmakka, who planted and tended to over a hundred banyan trees along a stretch of highway, my mom decided to plant at least one tree in front of the house beside the street.

After weeding through a plethora of options, she settled on a Neem tree (Azadirachta indica). The very breeze that blows through a neem branch is supposed to have healthful properties. Eating fresh young neem leaves and flowers is said to keep diabetes at bay.

Water infused with neem leaves and neem leaf paste is supposed to cure many skin diseases. Beauty product aisles in Indian supermarkets are filled with neem face masks, neem shampoos, and the list goes on. 

Not known for procrastinating, Mom went to a government nursery, brought home a neem sapling, planted it next to the gate, watered it, protected it from meandering cows, and gave it every love and attention. Soon her “neem baby” grew into a big tree. Its branches spread across the front yard and the shade provided cool relief in the master bedroom during afternoon naps. My mom’s joy and pride knew no bounds! 

Soon Mom realized that she was not the only one enjoying the neem tree. One morning she peeked out of the window to notice that Dhobi (laundryman) Ramanna’s ironing cart was parked under the tree with hot coal burning red in his old fashioned iron-box. By the time she stepped out with her morning coffee, the entire compound wall was lined with colorful bundles of clothes waiting for their turn at wrinkle release. 

“What is this Ramanna? Is there a clothes exhibition?” she shouted. “The shade is so nice ma’am; I’ll just finish ironing these clothes. Why don’t you give yours as well?” he replied, ever on the lookout for new business. “What do we do now about this new problem?” Mom complained to Dad, a little miffed at the turn of events. “Is it your street?” he questioned calmly without looking up from the newspaper. 

Just like that a small mound of coal ash started to collect next to the gate. One day Dad had to leave in a hurry, and found that Ramanna had parked his cart blocking the gate and had inconveniently disappeared. Now what!? 

“Leelu!” Dad called Mom. “You pull the cart aside, I’ll reverse the car,” he said. The street in front of the house is not exactly flat. Mom, in all her youthful 65-year-old glory was next seen pulling and pushing this heavy iron cart, sweat dripping from her forehead in the Indian summer heat. 

Ramanna’s is a family business. At times his wife and seven-year-old daughter joined him beside his mobile ironing cart. His daughter delivered bundles of ironed clothes to homes along the street and collected money for her father. My mom, being the loving woman she is, used to give the girl some fruit, biscuits or other munchies. One day the girl came running to Mom crying “Aunty, I work so hard and collect all this money for my father, but he is refusing to buy me color pencils for Rs.10 (19 cents)”! And so Mom went as negotiator to Ramanna and they settled on splitting the cost down the middle. Little Chinty was full of smiles that day. 

On another occasion Mom walked home with loaded grocery bags and there was Ramanna sitting on the front porch with a bundle of clothes. “Ma’am, the lady across the street is out. When she comes back can you please give her these clothes?” he pleaded. And so Mom spent the evening on the front room sofa with a bundle of colorful clothes, eyes peeled on the neighbour’s gate. 

And then, almost inevitably, the lady down the street knocked on the door. “Aunty, I need to get these clothes ironed in a hurry, but the dhobi is not here yet. I need to go to the temple, can you please give him these clothes when he gets here?” she requested. “Of course!” said Mom and went back to chopping vegetables wondering aloud about when she had signed up to unofficially manage Ramanna’s dhobi business. 

Lethargic after a sumptuous lunch, Mom was relaxing with a book in the front veranda one afternoon, when snap, snap, she heard breaking noises. Walking outside, she found a man on the Neem tree breaking small branches and twigs and hurtling it to the ground.
An unfamiliar rage colored Mom’s voice. “Hey you! Why are you breaking the branches?” she yelled. 

“Oh be quiet Ma’am! They will grow back out! Kids in my village are down with chicken pox, so I am taking some leaves!” he replied. Mom watched him walk away with a third of her tree. 

The plot of land across the street was sold to a new owner who started constructing his house. It did not take long for the construction workers to discover the neem tree and its cool shade. Soon the land around the tree became preferred parking for all their bicycles, motorcycles and cars. It also became the favourite lunch spot for all the workers. They gathered there every afternoon with their packed lunch. Stories of household sorrows and joys, mobile phone conversations, cricket commentary on the radio, minor rough-ups with loan sharks all broke the monotony in front of my parents’ house. On the day that sounds of “Kolaveri Kolaveri Di” disturbed the cherished afternoon nap in the cool shade of the neem tree in their bedroom, my parents decided to shift to the guest bedroom at the back of the house. 

One morning at about 11:00 a.m. Mom heard some loud altercations. Cautiously she peered out from behind the curtain to find several “muscle men” standing under the neem tree, smoking cigarettes! Mom quietly stole to the backyard to ask the maid what was going on. “There is some dispute regarding the road due to the new house construction, so these are local hooligans from the village. You stay indoors!” she advised. 

The next day Mom walked out hearing sirens to see a police jeep parked under the tree! Yesterday it was hooligans, today its law enforcement, she sighed. And all day she got inquiries from neighbours about why the police had visited her house! 

Soon the local college boys discovered the neem tree. Very soon there were throngs of boys on their motor bikes hanging out in the evenings under the tree, smoking cigarettes and gossiping about cricket, professors and, of course, girls, who joined in every now and then. News of the new young world wafted into my parents’ living room in the evenings providing ample entertainment.

This was just as well, since moving all the vehicles blocking the gate to take the car out and go for an evening drive was becoming more and more tiresome. My parents had to solicit passers-by to help move vehicles when they needed to take the car out.

Just as Mom was starting to pull out her hair over the tree, my aunt visiting from Chennai dropped a conversational bomb about the root damage neem trees could cause to the building structure and the amount of money needed to fix it. For the first time the thought of chopping the tree down entered my mom’s mind.

One day Mom was sitting in the front porch reading a book and slowly she looked up at the tree. It was spring and the tree was full of fragrant blossoms. She took a deep breath and relaxed, enjoying its shade, beauty and fragrance. The branches swayed to a gentle breeze and seemed to smilingly say “I am the one providing the shade and I don’t mind all the drama. Why are you worrying?” And just like that Mom realized her “neem baby” was all grown up now. It was alive, it was well, and it was fulfilling its promise in the world.

Samanvitha Rao is a Technical Marketing Engineer based in San Jose. She is an avid adventure enthusiast. This article was inspired by her mother, Leelavathi Rao’s story, published in the Kannada magazine Sudha.

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