Neem as a substitute for pesticides on maize in Nigeria

Farming is a major activity of people in my community and one major crop they plant is maize. It is being planted annually since it serves as a staple food and is used and needed by various manufacturing companies such as brewery industry, cereals, bakery and animal feed industries etc. However, one of the major limitations faced by maize farmers is pest and disease invasion on farms. This tends to reduce crop yield if not completely eradicate the crop before maturity. Although pesticides are sold, the high cost associated with purchase of pesticides tends to prevent most farmers from buying them. There are also concerns about the effects of synthetic pesticide use on human health.

Having observed this, I came up with the idea of substituting the expensive pesticides with the use of neem leaf. The idea was brought about because various research has shown me the medicinal value of the neem tree and also because it is readily available in my locality throughout the year. To go about it, all we need to do is to pluck an appreciable amount of the leaves of the neem tree (depending on the farm size) and soak in water for 2-3 days so that the toxins of the leaves are transferred to the water. After this is achieved, the water is then sprayed on the growing maize plants. The most interesting fact about this idea is that the ratio of leaves needed is relatively small compared to the farm size and it is less stressful thereby saving costs associated with purchase of pesticide. This approach also helps in eliminating possible pests and diseases. I have tried it in the past two planting seasons and it really helped.

To actualise this idea, educating and enlightening maize farmers on the alternative use of neem leaf as a pesticide is necessary for the farmers to have a maximum yield at harvest time.

Key stakeholders and beneficiaries of this project includes public and private industries using maize as raw materials, students of agriculture and crop farmers at large.

The proposed outcome is for farmers to have their maize crop free from pests and diseases and so get a higher yield. Because the maize yield is higher and of high value there will be surplus therefore reducing competition between human and animal consumption.

Success of the project will be measured by comparing the produce from the experimented plot with those produced from other farms (i.e. others will serve as control experiment).

The major driving factor to this project is the fact that maize is a crop which grows well in my locality and people and animal are directly or indirectly dependent on its production. Personal and societal gains from disease-free maize production include more income for farmers, provision of employment, better nourishment for the body, reduced competition between human and animals, and more revenue to the government.

Aderemi Abdulsabur, Nigeria

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