Malabar Neem Farming – Introduction
The Malabar neem is a deciduous tree which belongs to the neem family. It is mainly cultivated for its pulp and timber wood. Mainly the paper production industry and the plywood industry are benefactors from the cultivation of Malabar neem.
Agroforestry or cultivation of forest trees for commercial purposes is a practice which dates back many years. Unlike vegetable or fruit cultivation, agroforestry has some uncertain conditions. Due to this reason, this branch of forestry is not usually picked up by the farmers. Though it has a very good scope for market business as well as profit percentage, the cultivation is not well adapted to all the regions in the country.
Malabar neem farming is a very profitable farming for cultivators if they are ready to invest time and a bit of capital as an initial investment. This species is considered one of the fastest growing species. The harvest is ready in lesser time and the returns are also very good. But since the initial investment and the input are costlier, Malabar neem farming is not so widespread in the country. Farmers can also gain extra income from intercropping with several other crops.
Read Litchi Farming
Scientific Name of Malabar Neem: Melia dubia
Top Countries Cultivating Malabar Neem Tree
The Malabar neem tree naturally originates from India, Australia and southern parts of Asia. it was mainly used as a firewood in the places. In India, the trees occur naturally in the tropical regions where the deciduous forests occur. It is found in Kerala, North Bengal, Karnataka, Sikkim, Himalayas, Upper Assam, Deccan, Hills of Orissa, Khasi Hills, N.Circars, and the Western Ghats.
Common Name Of Malabar Neem In Other Languages
Hindi: Ghora-nim / Mahanim
Telugu: Malabaru Vepa / Munnatti Karaka
Kannada: Hebbevu / Karibvam
Tamil: Malai Vembu
Malayalam: Malai Vembu
Gujarath: Kadukajar / Nimbara / Ambaro / Limbaro / Nibara
Cultivation Of Malabar Neem Tree
For cultivation of Malabar neem tree, a proper area has to be selected first. Since the trees grow in specific conditions, therefore regions suited to the cultivation of Malabar neem must be selected as a site for its cultivation.
Soil Conditions For Malabar Neem Farming
Sandy loam soils are considered to be good for cultivation of Malabar neem. The soil which is fertile and rich in organic matter is most suitable for cultivation of Malabar neem trees. Red and laterite soils are also good for the cultivation of Malabar neem. The ph of the soil must be close to neutral. Soils with extreme ph value are not suitable for cultivation of Malabar neem. Since the trees attain deeper roots at maturity, it is essential that the soil must be deep and well drained. Moisture holding capacity of the soil must be good. The water table must not be situated too deep or the mature trees might find it difficult to locate water on their own.
Climatic Conditions For Malabar Neem Farming
The Malabar trees are native to moist regions with a good rainfall. Therefore it is best to cultivate Malabar trees in regions where there is abundant rainfall for its growth and a pleasant temperature. An annual rainfall of more than 1000mm is good for growing Malabar trees. In areas with lower rainfall, sufficient irrigation methods can be followed to successfully grow the trees. The trees also grow at higher elevations than sea level. Regions which are higher than the sea level by 600-1800m are best for the cultivation of Malabar neem trees. For commercial cultivation, however, they can also be grown in dry regions. In that case, proper irrigation methods have to be employed for its growth.
Read Toor Dal Farming
Land Preparation For Malabar Neem Farming
For cultivation of Malabar neem trees, the land has to be cleared of any weeds and tree stumps. Ploughing the land with appropriate implements is necessary so that a smooth texture of the soil is achieved. After that, harrowing must be done and the field must be left open under the sun for a few days.
Plant Propagation And Seedling Preparation For Malabar Neem Farming
The Malabar neem is propagated by seeds and vegetative propagation too. Germination of Malabar neem seeds is a huge problem. The outer seeds coat of the Malabar neem is very tough. Therefore appropriate seed treatment is done to soften the outer hard coat. Then it should be kept for two months. After removal of the outer hard seed coat, few cuts are made in the inner hard coat to remove it. The kernels inside must not be disturbed. These kernels are sown for seedlings in the nursery.
The seedbed of the nursery must be prepared by mixing san
d with soil. The kernels must be evenly dibbled across the field. The seedbed must be watered twice a day and covered with a poly sheet to lock the moisture. The seeds take about three months to germinate. When the seedlings have sprouted about 2-3 leaves, they are planted in polyethylene bags containing a mixture of sand, soil and organic matter. They are watered regularly and in case of excess water deposition, the polythene bags are emptied of the excess water. When the seedlings have attained a height of two feet in about a months’ time, they are ready to be transplanted to the main field. The ideal time to sow the seeds is during March-April.
Since all the seeds do not germinate, therefore vegetative propagation also practiced for the cultivation of Malabar neem. For vegetative propagation, little thick cuttings must be used as thin cuttings of trees can rot easily. The cuttings must be placed in a suitable medium and grown until they are ready to be planted in the main field.
Planting Method For Malabar Neem Farming
In the main field, pits need to be dug out measuring 2 feet cube. A spacing of 10-20 feet has to be maintained between the pits. The pits have to be filled with topsoil mixed with sand and well-decomposed farmyard manure. The seedlings have to be planted at the center of the pits. After planting them, it has to be made sure that the soil is pressed firmly around the roots and the seedlings stand erect. Immediately after planting, the seedlings have to be watered.
Irrigation Method For Malabar Neem Farming
Malabar neem plants have a good response towards irrigation. During the rainy season, there is hardly any need for irrigation. However, excess rains may cause water stagnation in the field. Waterlogging is a major problem for the Malabar neem plants and can cause root rot. Therefore, water drainage channels must be present in the field. Under normal conditions, irrigating the field once every 7-10 days is sufficient. If the rainfall is uneven, then extra care must be taken so that the soil receives enough moisture. If cultivation of Malabar neem is being done in dry areas, then, the plants have to be watered on a regular basis. Plants also must be protected from excess heat and frost conditions.
Fertiliser Application Methods In Malabar Neem Farming
Fertiliser application is very important in case of Malabar neem plants. The organic manure application must be done at the time of seedling preparation, planting in the main field as well. Proper nutrition management is required especially when the plants are young. A proper soil test is very much needed to determine the amount of nutrition needed for the plants. The nitrogenous fertilizers may be applied two times a year. Along with that micronutrients must also be provided according to requirement. Care must be taken so that the fertilizer application is not excessive in the soil. In that case, soil fertility is lost. There must be a proper balance in fertilizer and manure application.
Read Broccoli Farming
Intercultural Methods For Malabar Neem Farming
The control of weeds and unwanted growth of plants must be done as and when required. Manual methods can be used at the early stages while a combination of chemical and manual methods can be used for effective control of weeds. While the plant is still young, regular training and pruning of the plants are necessary. When the saplings are very tall, they must be trained with bamboo sticks so that wind does not cause them to break. When the seedlings are of 2m in height, the side branches must be pruned after every 10-15 days so that only one main trunk grows up to be. Nipping off the nodal buds between the side branch and the main trunk also must be done. Sometimes, intercropping can be done with Malabar neem which also helps to control certain pests attack.
Diseases And Pest Control Of Malabar Neem Farming
The Malabar neem is resistant to the termites. Apart from this, the common pests and diseases affecting the plants are wood borers, leaf miners, defoliator insects and sap-sucking insects. High water stagnation in the crop may cause root rot. Stem canker and twig canker are also common diseases in Malabar neem. Basically, proper crop management is associated with lesser risk of pest attack and disease-causing. In case of pest attack, proper pesticides can be sprayed. Natural methods are also available but implementing them on a large scale may prove to be difficult at times. Hence, appropriate treatment must be done to reduce such incidences.
Yield Of Malabar Neem Tree
After four years of planting the trees, an average yield of 30-40 tons per acre of land is expected. This is the average yield when the density of trees is high in the field i.e at the rate of 1200-1500 trees per acre.
Harvesting Of Malabar Neem Plantation
The harvest is usually done according to the products required. The Malabar neem can be harvested for plywood after 4-5 years of planting. On the other hand, if timber is to be harvested, then a long wait for 10-14 years can produce good quality timber. Trees of around three years of age are sold in case pulp is to be extracted from papermaking.
For harvesting the wood, the tree is cut above the ground level leaving a little portion of the tree at the base. For cutting, manual labor can be employed and various cutting implements can be used for cutting the wood.
Post-Harvest Management And Marketing Of Malabar Neem Farming
After harvest, the wood is chopped into logs and carried to the mills or industries for processing. Chopped logs must not be kept for long as they are liable to get infected by pests and fungi. They also must be protected from water and other external agents.
Usually, big vehicles are used for transportation of the logs from the planting area to the processing mill. At the processing plant, the wood is cut and shaped into desired materials.
Benefits Of Malabar Neem Farming
- The Malabar neem attains good timber weight in less time. It grows very fast hence profit can be expected in shorter time.
- A variety of crops can be cultivated along with Malabar neem tree farming. The extra spaces can be utilized for the cultivation of gram crops, groundnuts, and many others.
- Malabar neem tree produces good quality pulp in lesser time. The pulp is used for making paper and several other products.
- Plywood obtained from the Malabar neem trees are used to make pencils, ceiling boards, and various other household products of daily use.
Malabar Neem Farming – Conclusion
The demand for high-quality wood would always be high especially at a time when wood is scarce. Cultivating Malabar neem for wood would not only satisfy the demand but also fetch a handsome profit. The Malabar neem produces good quality timber which is useful for many purposes. But, since the tree is only native to a few places, the cultivation is not so widespread. But, with proper scientific methods and modern techniques large-scale commercial cultivation of the tree is quite possible. For good quality sapwood and timber, it is also necessary to protect the plants from pests and provide proper nutrition to the trees. Then only, one can expect a good amount of profit from selling the wood.