|Neem tree branch - mwarubaini (from danmarios)|
Neem trees survive for a period of 100 – 200 years and grow up to 30 metres high. They start producing fruit after a few years but they are fully productive after 10 years.
In swahili, the Neem tree is known as “mwarubaini” which means 40. This tree is named so because it is known to cure over 40 different diseases.
Neem fruits are food for bats and birds. They eat the sweet flesh and spit the kernels out.
Planting Neem tree
It is best to grow neem from fresh seeds less than 3 months old. Stem cuttings, removing leaves from its tree branches and planting in humus rich soil also allows the Neem tree to grow fast.
Process of Producing Neem Oil
- Collect fresh ripe seeds that have fallen from the neem tree and wash them.
- Leave them to dry in the sun for a few days and always store them in containers where air can circulate such as baskets and sacks.
- Gently pound well-dried sees in a large mortar to split the shells open. Be careful not to crush the kernels.
- Pour the mixture high above the basket to blow out the husks just as you do to eliminate husks from rice seeds in a process known as winnowing. The kernels should fall into the basket while the lighter shells should be blown off.
- Pick out and remove any rotten kernels from the mortar as these can be poisonous.
- Return the kernels to the mortar and pound further to form a brown sticky paste.
- Work this paste by hand while adding a little amount of clean boiled water. After working with the paste for a while, the neem oil will slowly begin to ooze out.
- Continue working and squeezing the neem paste until no more oil comes out from it. From 1 kilogram of neem seeds, between 100ml – 150ml of oil can be obtained.
- The neem paste is an excellent fertilizer or animal feed after no more neem oil can be extracted from it.
Uses of Neem Oil
- Treating skin infections such as acne, psoriasis, scabies, eczema and fungal infections. Add 10 grammes of neem oil to 100 grammes of a locally available low cost ointment such as vaseline and mix well. Rub onto affected skin area.
- Candida fungal infections whose symptoms include wounds in the mouth and vagina. Mix 1 spoon of neem oil to 9 spoons of honey and mix for mouth wounds. 1 spoon to 9 spoons of vegetable oil for vaginal infections. Apply 3 times a day to affected areas.
- Add a little amount of neem oil to fuel used kerosene lamps to keep mosquitoes away.
- Take 100 grammes of ordinary soap, break it into pieces and add a little clean water and 10 grammes of neem oil. Pound and mix together, shape and allow to dry. This gives you a herbal medicated sweet smelling antiseptic soap.
- For coughs, add 3 drops of neem oil to a spoon of honey or sugar and take 3 times a day.
Increase your household income by
- Making a few more pieces of soap and anti-fungal skin lotions for the community around while charging a little price for it.
- Also offer to train youth groups, mother's groups and cooperative societies in your community about how to make their medicated soap, skin lotions and medicines for diseases such as candida, scabies, acne which affect a lot of people. Charge a little price for this and better still, sell them the neem seeds and tree branches for planting.
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