Amongst the important challenges facing governments in many Sub-Saharan African countries is tackling the duo problems of climatic change and adequate food security. This is as a result of serious crises facing food production due to declining agricultural productivity (yield/hectare) caused by many factors including food losses by agricultural pest and diseases. Orthodox plant protection control methods for pests have been very important in the past decades in improving crop production. However, the detrimental effect of some pesticides and some inorganic fertilisers on the environment, wildlife, surface and underground water and human health have been a source of great concern particularly in the semi-arid regions. This has led to the search for much safer alternatives to chemical pest control. Bio-pesticides have shown some promising alternatives to the use of chemical pesticides, while bio-fertiliser as an alternative to in-organic fertilisers because of their safety, efficacy and can fit into IPM programmes with ease. The project is aimed at formulating and standardising neem (Azadirachta indica) based bio-pesticides for use as pest control tools and bio-fertilisers in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) based sustainable agriculture.
Neem is known as a “miracle” tree mainly because of its medicinal and pesticidal properties. Limonoids from neem kernel oils, including; azadirachtin A, azadirachtin D, azadiradione, nimbin, nimbolite, salannin, meliantriol, and marangin have been reported to have pesticidal effect. Metabolites such as ammonia, nitrites, hydrogen sulphide, organic acids produced by microbes during decomposition of the neem plant can also be detrimental to soil pests. Neem bio-pesticides are effective in management of pests and diseases. In addition, application of neem bio=fertilizers also leads to increase in crop yield. This could be attributed to adequate quantity of nutrients produced by neem such as N (Nitrogen 2.0% to 5.0%), P (Phosphorus 0.5% to 1.0%), K (Potassium 1.0% to 2.0%), Ca (Calcium 0.5% to 3.0%), Mg (Magnesium 0.3% to 1.0%), S (Sulphur 0.2% to 3.0%), Zn (Zinc 15 ppm to 60 ppm), Cu (Copper 4 ppm to 20 ppm), Fe (Iron 500 ppm to 1200 ppm), Mn (Manganese 20 ppm to 60 ppm). Neem cake produced after extraction of oil from neem kernel is sold as organic fertiliser in many countries.
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