Why is Neem so special?
The Neem Tree (Azadiracta Indica) has been known in India for more than 2,000 years as "The Medicine Tree." The tree's leaves, bark, fruit and the oil from its seeds all have medicinal capabilities that have been used to treat the symptoms from migraine headaches and rashes to diabetes, hypertension and some types of cancers. CLICK HERE to see a complete review of Neem's medicinal benefits.
In the battle against malaria, the tree has been proven to repel anopheles mosquitoes to a radius of 100 meters in all directions. This means if a household has a Neem tree planted nearby, no malaria-bearing mosquitoes will enter the living space. There is no need for bed nets or any artificial solution. The entire family is safe. In addition, if someone has malaria symptoms, a tea made of Neem leaves will relieve those symptoms practically overnight. This eliminates the need for expensive medications.
The Neem solution for malaria is all natural and is perpetual and can be produced by the indigenous population. See The Entire Plan for other benefits.
What is the project's objective?
The Neem Initiative aims to prove that the Neem Tree can be an effective, natural tool in the battle against malaria in Uganda, East Africa while establishing an infrastructure of indigenous people to produce, distribute and plant Neem trees. TNI also is planting forests of Neem trees which will provide economic benefits long term in the form of marketable products from leaves, seeds, oil and lumber.
If our own research affirms the extensive body of research that has gone before us, we will have a powerful, natural weapon in the battle against malaria that can be applied across Africa.
What is the history of TNI?
TNI began in 2008 as an experiment by American missionary named Lee Mulder. Mulder had been coming to Uganda regularly in his humanitarian work with Juna Amagara Ministries, an indigenous organization dedicated to saving the lives of AIDS orphans. He had become interested in reforestation as the communities he visited which were using up forest resources and were not replacing them. In his research for which types of trees to plant, he discovered Neem. He then found a source of seeds in country and tried planting them in four locations. None germinated.
Two years later, in collaboration with a young man named Obadiah Monday, another kilo of seeds was planted. These germinated and, were mostly sold to a forestry service which told us that, at the very least, there was a market for seedlings. More importantly, as we learned more about the malaria-prevention characteristics of the tree, a plan began to form. We reasoned that, if seedlings could be grown in large quantities, with the cooperation of local officials, we could distribute trees that would reduce the incidence of malaria. More seeds were planted. A proposal was made to the King of the Bunyoro/Kitara to enlist his help and support for the project - which was granted including the use of two acres of Kingdom land. Major planting of seedlings and formal training of growers began in 2013.
A major factor in the long-term viability of TNI centers around a study that will be conducted in 2014 to prove or disprove the concept of Neem's mosquito repellant capability. See next question.
How do you know Neem will repel mosquitoes?
There is a great body of current research that claims Neem repels the anopheles mosquito but if we are to fund and operate a long-term project such as TNI, we want to prove or disprove the concept to our own satisfaction in the high-incidence areas of Uganda where we are operating.
Therefore, in 2015, we will conduct our own study using trees grown in our own farms. To date, we have 420 trees grown from the original seedlings that will be large enough in 2015 to use as our prototypes. The villages were selected in 2013. Funding for the study is underway.
How far has the project progressed to date?
The first half of 2013 was dedicated to training local growers and planting initial quantities of Neem seeds. Management and growers are in place. Along the way, we are organizing for the study to be done and are lining up Stakeholders who will hopefully fund the first three years of the project.
We have developed a good working rapport with the local kingdom chiefs, we have secured land in several locations for growing and we have developed a long list of people who wish to become growers assuming the research study proves positive. Our project manager Obadiah Monday is a highly qualified graduate veterinarian. He is organized, motivated and excited about a project that could so benefit his people.
It is a good start.
What is the reality of bed nets as a solution?
Clearly the U.N., World Health Organization and USAID are convinced that insecticide-treated bed nets (ITBN) are the best solution for preventing malaria. Why? Because they are intended to keep mosquitoes away from people and also that the nets kill mosquitoes. Because these major donors provide ITBN for free, the government ministries of health also have adopted bed nets as a solution. The 2012 Malaria Report from the U.N. reports a significant reduction in the number of malaria deaths since the inception of the bed net program. The section of the report for Uganda speaks of a request that would provide nets for all 34 million people in Uganda though only 30% of the people have them today.
When you speak to people in Uganda about malaria, it seems everyone has had malaria, knows of people who have died of malaria, and are eager for a malaria solution. Yet when the subject of bed nets comes up, people smile. "We use them to cover our food to keep the flies away," one man said. Another living near Lake Victoria said, "We use them for fishing."
Nets are only good if people use them properly. Not everyone does. They only work for people who have nets around their beds. Not all people have beds. Nets also lose their insecticide potency over time, older versions in two years. And now we are hearing of a new batch of mosquitoes which have adapted to the use of nets and now begin foraging before dusk.
Bed nets are a prophylactic, man-made device and though they have shown some value, they are not the complete solution to malaria. The entire population of Uganda will never be found sleeping under nets. Neem is another weapon in the battle against the disease.
Are you saying Neem will eradicate malaria?
No. We believe Neem offers a better, natural, long-lasting solution to protecting people against getting malaria because it keeps the mosquitoes away from where entire families are sleeping while the mosquitoes are active. With a Neem tree planted next to the house, there is no need to depend on an artificial device as a solution. Eradication means killing anopheles mosquitoes in their habitat. Neem and DDT can do that. Actively reducing places for standing water can do that. A Neem leaf solution can do that. It will take Neem and nets and habitat reduction to truly eradicate malaria.
How can I help?
This program needs funding. You can donate time, talent and treasure. You can become a stake-holder. You can spread the word. Become involved. Be a part of the only true green solution to one of the world's most insidious diseases. Contact us today.