Neem trees in Yilo, Lower Manya Krobo face extinction

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Neem Trees

The neem tree has garnered considerable attention for its healing qualities, especially in light of the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak in 2019.

However, it is currently facing the risk of extinction in the Krobo areas of the Eastern region due to changing climate patterns and irresponsible human actions.

Mr Kojo Odum Eduful, the President of the Traditional Medicines Practitioners Association, said drinking and inhaling boiled leaves of neem trees during the COVID era enhanced the human immune system, protecting against the virus.

Additionally, it was used in the treatment of various ailments, including malaria, as well as conditions like nosebleeds, intestinal worms, stomach discomfort, decreased appetite, and more.

The neem tree was extensively cultivated in various African countries, including Ghana, Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Mali, Benin, Niger, Nigeria, Togo, Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, and Sudan.

Nevertheless, there had been a growing concern among traditional medicine and environmental experts regarding the situation in the Eastern region, specifically in the Yilo and Lower Manya Krobo areas.

Mr Tetteh Moses Appenahier, a resident of Ayirmersu, said he and other individuals in the area had been cutting down numerous trees for charcoal and firewood to sustain their livelihoods. Unfortunately, the activity was posing a threat to the neem tree population.

He said he has felled more than 50 neem trees, saying: “I only use neem trees to burn charcoal because my customers say it is very hard and doesn’t consume faster when they use it.”

He emphasised the higher profitability of charcoal made from neem trees, which could be sold for 170 Ghana cedis per bag. In comparison, charcoal made from mango trees is priced at 80 cedis per bag.

Mr Solomon Teye Kwame, a farmer, told the Ghana News Agency that he was aware of the medicinal properties of the treatment for malaria but not familiar with its impact on vegetation.

He viewed the neem tree primarily as a means of treating malaria and producing charcoal, without considering any other potential uses.

Indians introduced the tree to Africa in the 19th century, Mr Francis Nii Clottey, the Head of Yilo Krobo Agriculture Extension said.

He emphasised the significant value of the tree and the need for human efforts to protect and preserve it.

“All parts of the tree have become very useful because of their economic value; they’re used to produce neem oil, neem cake, and neem extract,” he said.

These were used in producing pesticides, fungicides, and insecticides that are used in controlling pests, curatives for fungal diseases, and repellents for killing insects like cockroaches and mosquitoes, he said.

He noted that reports showed the neem tree has emerged as a thriving industry in certain regions of Ghana, such as the Upper West and Central regions, and that the production of neem oil has witnessed significant growth, particularly for export purposes.

Mr Clottey emphasised the importance of the Environmental Protection Agency to consistently educate the public about its economic benefits and to discourage individuals from selfishly destroying trees.
Highlighting the significance of the neem tree in the ecosystem along the Tema-Akosombo Road, he emphasised the detrimental effects of tree cutting on the environment, as trees play a crucial role in combating erosion and mitigating climate change.

Over the years, human activities have taken a toll on Ghana’s forest trees, with an estimated 6.6 million hectares, or 80 percent of the country’s land area, being depleted, according to experts.

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