Fatou Secka, a woman in her mid-eighties from Serrekunda, reaped the multiple benefits of the neem tree when she decided to try its leaves as an alternative to the relatively expensive insecticides.
“I have always used the leaves of the neem tree as an organic insecticide on my small corn farm,” she said. “Because I could not afford imported insecticides, I resorted to it. For over a decade, I have been utilizing it, the neem tree has been my miracle!”
Since she started using the neem tree leaves, she has registered a reduction in bacteria attacks and a boost in her corn farm. She has even recommended it to her friends.
“I can tell you that it has contributed to the positive yield of my agricultural products,” she said. “I even advised my friends to use it to eliminate insects in their gardens. I have also made a huge profit selling the ground neem leaves to foreigners and traders.”
The neem tree is a fast-growing tree of the mahogany family highly valued as a medicinal plant, source of organic pesticides, and timber. Neem is found throughout South Asia, in most parts of Africa, the Caribbean, and numerous countries in South and Central America.
Dr Modou Jeng, a medical doctor at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital explained that the Neem flowers can also be used for medicinal purpose. “The flowers are used to treat skin diseases, nausea, and intestinal worms,” Dr Jeng said.
He said despite its efficacy in treating many diseases, the neem flowers have severe side effects and should not be taken orally during pregnancy.
Experts say ‘Neem’ works on any kind of skin. The oil is used for preparing cosmetics such as lotion and shampoo. Additionally, Neem oil has been used effectively as a mosquito repellent.