Neem oil is extracted from the seeds and kernels of neem tree (Azadirachta Indica) belonging to mahogany family. Neem is regarded as a wonder tree because of its benefits and potential benefits to human beings and the environment through its various parts.
The Neem oil is gaining the importance due to its wide scope of commercialization in the areas of agriculture, veterinary, cosmetics, medicines, toiletries and various industries. Neem is now becoming popular in cosmetics and beauty aid also.
The demand of neem products are increasing day by day. Agriculture sector is becoming a major consumer of the neem products viz. neem oil, neem cake and neem based pesticides. Being eco-friendly and natural source of phyto-chemicals and nutrients it is preferred to apply neem bio-fertilizer and bio-pesticide in agriculture especially in organic farming all over the world.
Neem contains 40 different bio-active compounds called liminoids. The main active compound in neem seed is Azadirachtin. It exhibits anti-feedant, insect repellant and insect sterilization properties and is a potential substitute for toxic synthetic-chemical pesticides. Azadirachtin has proven effectiveness as a pesticide against about more than 300 insect species and is reported as non-toxic to humans, predators, pollinators and other non-targeted organisms. Unlike chemical insecticides, it works on the insect's hormonal system, not on the digestive or nervous system, and it is claimed that this does not lead to development of resistance in future generations.
Neem is attracting world attention in recent decades mainly due to its bio-active ingredients that find increasing use in modern crop and grain protection leaving no residue in agricultural produce. With the rising environmental concerns and the need for bio-pesticides to replace toxic synthetic-chemical pesticides, neem oil and neem oil-based-pesticides have the potential to be used in organic farming, horticulture, floriculture, green houses, kitchen gardens, etc.
The residue retained after extraction of oil from the neem seeds and kernels is called neem cake and is rich in most of the amino acids. It is a potential source of organic manure and contains many plant nutrients, viz. nitrogen 2-3%, phosphorus 1% and potassium 1.4%.