Using Neem Tree to Improve Animal Health and Productivity in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs)
The Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) comprise 80% of Kenya land surface and have 50% of the livestock, the sole means of livelihood for the pastoralists who make 25% of the Kenyan population. Key constraints to animal health and production in the ASALs include; recurrent droughts, fragile range ecosystem, inadequate feeds and supplementation, plus the high costs of inputs and services. The Neem tree (Azadirachta indica) which is abundant in Kenya is well suited for the ASALs and its multiple uses can ameliorate and/or alleviate many of the above constraints. Neem grows on all kinds of soils; requires an annual rainfall of 130 – 1150mm; an altitude of 50 - 1500m above sea level, and thrives in places with maximum shade temperature of 45o C. These parameters make Neem an ideal tree for the aforestation of the ASALs. Neem's uses include: animal and human food, flavoring and beverage; human and animal medicines; biopesticides and environmental restoration. Neem oil and exudates have commercial applications in pharmaceuticals and food industry. The wood is good as fuel and for wood carving. Most of these uses and applications of Neem require low technology and can form the basis of rural cottage industries in ASALs with enormous potential for improving health, productivity and livelihoods.
The Kenya Veterinarian Vol. 29 2005: pp. 60-63