Bio-pesticidal Properties of Neem (Azadirachta indica)
Consequence upon the geometrically rising world population and the increasing pressure on food items, it has become increasingly necessary to increase food production from the present level. The possibility of achieving this is not only to increase production but also to protect the crops cultivated. Crop protection can be achieved through several means. One of such is the use of pesticides. This paper therefore reviews the use of neem extracts as bio-pesticides among other plant species with inherent pesticidal activities. It is no doubt that the chemical pesticides or insecticides possess inherent toxic substances that endangers the ecological environment, operators of application equipment, soil microbiota and consumers of the agricultural products. It is therefore important that we encourage the use of biological pesticides as they affect only target pest, are easily biodegradable, increase farm land fertility, environmentally friendly, cost effective and ease of availability. It is also important that because of the low cost of production of bio-pesticides it should be encouraged as an option in African countries especially Nigeria in agricultural practices. The practice of farmers making their own neem-based products for pest control would reduce their dependence on external inputs for agriculture. It would also reduce their cost of pest control to almost zero, leaving only labour as a potential expenditure item. Pests can also be controlled without the use of toxic chemical pesticides, which will reduce the harm posed to humans and the environment alike. There is wide scope for innovation in developing neem as an efficient bio-pesticide. There is enough information to encourage the use of different neem extracts. With the increasing trend of using bio fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides, neem should be increasingly cultivated and grown all over the world to get active ingredient-azadirachtin, responsible for stopping the growth cycle of pests. Neem is also assuming a lot of importance in crop management. Considering the fact that neem is not only a cheaper, naturally occurring product and an effective method to control pests and insects, but also has no side effects on plants or other living beings especially soil micro biota.
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