Cultivation and Economics of Malabar neem

Author: Manjunath Holalu


Agriculture is one of the most important sectors for Indian economy and about 43% of India’s geographical area is used for farming activity but the share of Indian agriculture in the GDP has steadily declined over the years and the farming sectors are becoming unviable. There is, therefore, an urgent need to provide package of initiatives for transfer of technology, improving input use efficiency, promoting investments in agriculture and forestry both in private and public sectors and creating a favorable and enabling economic environment.

The emerging needs in farming sector includes adoption of location specific skill and knowledge based technologies, promotion of greater value addition to agriculture and forest produce, forge new partnerships between public institutions, technology users and the corporate sector, harnessing IT effectively to realize financial sustainability and compete in the international market.

Plantation forestry has tremendous scope for rural livelihood improvement and improvement of activities of wood based industries in the country. However, supply of quality planting stock to the farmers is the major bottle neck due to lack of micro and macro nutrients, insect pests, diseases and nematodes. Various nursery practices are available individually for pests, diseases and nutrient management however, integrated strategy to manage growth, pests and diseases is lacking.

Insect pests are detrimental to the vigorous growth and health of planting stock which ultimately affect the survival of out planted seedlings in the field. Development of pest management practices is an important priority area in forestry so as to produce healthy seedlings for attaining improved productivity.

Timely and proper utilization of the developed pest management package of practices could keep the pests at an innocuous level and reduce the high cost of containing the pest in outbreak situations and loss of planting material could be avoided. Pest management (in nurseries and plantations) relies mostly on monitoring to detect pest incidences and identify pest population levels. The key tactic is prevention. For this, information on pests and planning to prevent or reduce the pest incidence is required.

GENERAL INFORMATION: Melia dubia is a commercial tree crop in India. Its large tree deciduous tree, belongs to miliaceae family, attaining a height of 20 m. with a spreading crown and a cylindrical straight commercial bole of 9 m. length X 1.2-1.5 m. girth found in Sikkim Himalayas, North Bengal. Upper Assam, Khasi Hills, hills of Orissa, N.Circas, Descant and Western Ghats at altitudes of 1500 – 1800 m. Names in Kannad: Hebbevu, Telgu: Munnattikaraka, Tamil: Maali vembu and TRADE name is Malbar Neem wood

SITE FACTORS AND TOPOGRAPHY: In its natural habitat the absolute maximum shade temperature varies from 37.5–47.5 C and the absolute minimum from 0–15 C. It does well in moist regions, with a mean annual rainfall exceeding 1000 mm. The mean relative humidity in July varies from 70–90% and in January from 50–80 %It is commonly found in the hills at elevations ranging from 600 – 1800m.

CULTIVATION: The rooted seedlings are planted onset of the monsoon or during the monsoon. June to September is the best season for planting. The suggested pit size is 2 x 2 x 2 ft Cube. Spacing of 3.5 m x 3.5 m is recommended. This will give better girth in shorter duration. Pits filled with Bio-agents, Neem cake and compost before planting.

Spacing for commercial cultivation are 10×10 ft, 10×12 ft, 12×12 ft, 12×15 ft, 15×15 ft and 10×15 ft. spacing should be decided based on requirement of the farmers, land quality and management practices.

Every Pit should fill with one kilo of enriched compost, Half kilo of Neem cake and Half kilo of rock phosphate.

30-45 cm heighted healthy seedlings should be selected for plantation. Open the polybag and keep it in the middle of the pit and fill with soil on the above. Irrigation should be done before the planting. One strong stake should be providing to avoid mortality due to wind. One week after planting, proper basin should be done around the seedling. Watering is to be taken care as per climate, normally five liters of water is sufficient for a week.

SEED GERMINATION: Seeds are collected from ripened fruits (Jan – Feb) by rubbing, washing and drying and are stored in sealed tins. The germinability of the seed is less than 25%. In nursery, the seeds are sown in raised nursery beds. The best seed treatment is treating the seeds with slury for one day. Then the treated seeds are sown over the raised nursery bed. It takes one or two months for the seeds to germinate. Irrigation should be done regularly. The seedling takes 6 months to complete its nursery stage.

UTILISATION: The wood is used for packing cases, cigar boxes, ceiling planks, building purposes, agricultural implements, pencils, math boxes, splints and catamarans. In Srilanka, it is employed for outriggers of boats. It is suitable for musical instruments, tea boxes and the most importantly in making plywood, as the wood is anti-termite by itself.

The details of quality & technical specifications are as follows.

1) The logs had very high moisture contents and were green.
2) All logs were round and good for peeling. Roundness seems to be inherent quality of this tree.
3) Logs peel easily.
4) Outturn is excellent – 70% & better in fresh cut logs.
5) Veneer strong and firm.
6) Two small logs were peeled for faces. Quality obtained was acceptable.
7) M.R.Grade Plywood pressed with these veneers and in combination with other veneers gave excellent results.


Defoliators, leaf miners and sap suckers are recorded along with several wood borers across India. Ganoderma lucidum causes root rot in high rainfall areas and Corticium salmonicolor causes stem and twig canker


The following estimation for one ha or 2.5 acre

Pitting / Farmyard manure etc : Rs 70,000/-
Cost of 800 rooted plants : Rs 24,000/-
Planting process : Rs 20,000

Total Expenditure for 1st year : Rs. 1,14,000

2nd Year Rs. 61,500.00
3rd Year Rs. 61,500.00
4th Year Rs. 64,500.00
5th Year Rs. 66,500.00
6th Year Rs. 66,500.00
7th Year Rs. 68,500.00
8th Year Rs. 68,500.00
9th Year Rs. 64,500.00
10th Year Rs. 64,500.00
11th Year Rs. 66,500.00
Total Rs. 6,53,000.00

Grand Total: 6,53,000 + 1,14,000 = 7,67,000.00

Income from the Malabar neem will differ with many factors. An average income may vary from 10L to 23 L per acre of plantation after 10-12 of crop rotation.


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