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Jodhpur, India, 21 – 25 March 2001

National collaborators of the International Neem Network (INN) and resource persons met in a workshop on data analysis held at the Arid Forest Research Institute (AFRI), in Jodhpur, India 21 to 25 March 2001. The workshop, attended by 14 persons, was supported by FAO, the DANIDA Forest Seed Centre (DFSC, Denmark) and the FAO Forest Research Support Programme for Asia and the Pacific (FORSPA, Thailand). Participants from Burkina Faso, India, Laos, Nepal, Tanzania and Thailand discussed with experts and resource persons from FAO, DFSC and the Asia Pacific Association of Forestry Research Institutions (APAFRI, Malaysia). The workshop included a field trip to neem field research activities and a Rajasthan Forest Service Conservation Area on 24 March. The Indian Council for Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE, Dehra Dun) and the Forest Service, Government of Rajasthan, are heartily thanked for hosting the workshop in a friendly and constructive atmosphere, for the fine practical arrangements and for the efficient organization of the meeting. The list of participants and the agenda are given in Annex 1 and Annex 2 respectively.


Following the discussions and recommendations of the First and Second International Consultations on Neem Improvement, (held respectively in Bangkok (Thailand) in January 1993, and Jodhpur (India) in March 1994), the International Neem Network was established with the long term objective to improve the genetic quality and adaptability of neem and to improve its utilization, throughout the world, as a contribution to development in the countries concerned. Emphasis was in particular given to meeting the needs and requirements of rural people. In the initial stage, it was decided that the main activities of the Network should focus on provenance exploration, collection and exchange of material for establishment of internationally coordinated trials.

National institutions of 23 countries, in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe, have originally participated in the Network activities, which are coordinated by FAO. The founding principles of the network are stated in Annex 3.

During 1993 and 1994, seed sources were surveyed and documented throughout the natural range of the species and in areas of introduction. Pilot seed collection and exchange were undertaken to improve the procedures used in these complex handling operations, neem seed displaying a recalcitrant or intermediate behaviour. A training workshop was organised in July 1994, in Coimbatore (India), to familiarise network collaborators with the improved technical procedures for seed collection and exchange.

Twenty five seed-sources, representing the eco-geographical variation in the natural range of distribution of the species, were selected for seed collection and exchange among network collaborators in 1995, for establishment of international provenance trials.

Results of seed exchange and handling, and seedling cultivation in nursery, were discussed at a workshop of the INN in Bangkok in March 1996. At this meeting, technical guidelines for trial design and establishment were drafted and adopted. Following the workshop in Bangkok, approximately 30 international provenance trials were set up by network collaborators in some 15 countries in Africa, Asia and South America, sampling the full range of ecological conditions within the natural distribution of neem. Information on neem seed sources and trial description was compiled and documented in comprehensive publications by the Network.

A first review of the trials established was undertaken during a workshop of the Network in Yangon, Myanmar, 28 July to 1 August 1997. In the light of overall satisfactory results in trial establishment, Network members decided to discuss and finalize a number of technical recommendations for the assessment of priority traits (characters) and the collection of relevant data during the first five years of the trials. A booklet summarizing these recommendations was finalized and disseminated to all members (see list of publications by the Network in Annex 4).

Objective of the Workshop on Data Analysis

The main objectives of the workshop were to (i) report and discuss the state of the international provenance trials established in 1995; (ii) present progress made in data collection and analysis on individual trials; (iii) discuss possible future assessments, and criteria to be monitored; (iv) consider the relevance and feasibility of a global assessment of the trials; and (v) discuss the future activities of the Network.

This report describes and summarizes the discussions and recommendations of the meeting.

Opening ceremony

The Workshop on Data Analysis was opened on Wednesday 21 March (World Forestry Day) at 9.00 by Dr R.P.S. Katwal, Director-General, ICFRE. He underlined in his opening address to the workshop the importance of neem tree in India, and especially the role of the tree in the daily life of rural and urban people. The speech by the Director-General, ICFRE, was followed by an address by Dr. P. Rosenegger, FAO Representative in India and Bhutan, who highlighted the many important uses of neem. Mr. P. Sigaud, Forestry Officer (Forest Genetic Resources) at FAO Forestry Department welcomed the participants to the Workshop on behalf of the Forest Resources Division of FAO, which is acting as the global coordinator of the network. Guests from Rajasthan Forest Service, Arid Forest Research Institute, Central Arid Zone Research Institute, other State organizations and international agencies had been invited to the opening ceremony.

The opening addresses were followed by an official tree planting ceremony at the occasion of the World Forestry Day, in the courtyard of AFRI.

Status of trials in member countries

During the first day of the workshop, representatives from member institutions presented the status of the international provenance trials, the overall behaviour of the trees, and problems experienced in experimental site maintenance and data collection and analysis. A number of institutions who had undertaken data processing, also reported on the preliminary results of these analyses. Information was also provided to the workshop participants, to the extent the information was available, on trial establishment undertaken by countries not present at the meeting. A number of countries (including Bangladesh, Mali, Myanmar and Pakistan), where living trials had been reported, could not be represented at the workshop. Other countries (including Chad, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Senegal and Sudan) had beforehand reported that their trials no longer existed in the field. Low survival rates and slow growth had been reported in Sri Lanka.

Annex 5 to this report gives an up-to-date summary of the status of the international provenance trials, and the progress of data analysis.

On the basis of status reports provided by the participants, overall survival rates in remaining trials appear satisfactory to good. A number of trials had been assessed recently, in preparation for the workshop. The number of characters surveyed and the degree of precision of the analysis carried out on these data sets showed significant differences between institutions. All participants had brought information, either in the form of raw data, preliminary results, or comprehensive status reports.

Delegates from Tanzania, Thailand and Coimbatore (India) reported that, under favourable climatic conditions, and with a close spacing of trees in provenance trials, plants were displaying vigorous growth, and canopy closure was imminent in many provenances. The visual observations made during the field visit in Jodhpur, and the description of trials in Burkina Faso, showed that growth in arid zones followed a totally different pattern. Most provenances growing in arid areas still display important variations in relative ranking over time, and no provenance has so far shown a stable and constant dominance other the others for traits related to vigour (inc. height and diameter).

AFRI reported that trials at two experimental sites in India, namely at Jabalpur and Panampally, had failed, and expressed their wish to have provenance trials established again in the area. The idea was strongly supported by the INN members.

Data analysis

Resource persons from DFSC presented an example of analysis of variance carried out beforehand using raw data from neem trials in Myanmar. A programme had been developed on SAS for this purpose. The programme was used on-the-spot to confirm the results of analysis of variance undertaken at Coimbatore by the Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding (IFGTB) on a different GENESTAT software. The SAS programme lines were provided to participants, with a proposal to sent the programme by floppy disk to participants on request. Raw data provided by AFRI on experiment Jodhpur # 1 also confirmed the relevance of the DFSC programme for arid-zone trials. A field visit followed the presentation by AFRI, which allowed participants to check the validity of the analysis presented earlier. IFGTB, Coimbatore, presented the results of analysis of variance carried out with GENESTAT.

Burkina Faso and Laos commented that, while data analysis had not yet been carried out, they should be in a position to process the data with minimum technical guidance from other members or resource institutions. DFSC kindly offered to assists member institutions who wish so to carry out part of the analysis of variance at Humlebæk, on request.

Constraints identified during data analysis/assessment

Participants were asked to report on the difficulties that they may have experienced in the process of data collection and processing, including the interpretation of results and publication of conclusions. Some participants reported the need for limited technical assistance in data collection, checking or processing, and it was agreed that these specialized, punctual requests would be addressed on a case-by-case basis by DFSC and FAO.

Thailand and Tanzania mentioned that the original planting density (3mx3m) would soon lead to canopy closure in most trials and that the possibility of thinning would have to be addressed in the near future. They also questioned the relevance of continuing assessing traits as total height and collar diameter at this stage of development, five years after trial establishment. Neem trees are mainly grown for shade, fruit and leave production in Tanzania, and are often planted at a spacing of 6 m x 6 m for these purposes. In this regard, external technical assistance would be appreciated to help in deciding the patterns and timing of future silvicultural treatments in the high-density trials.

A group discussion on the objectives of the INN trials followed, which suggested that in the most favourable environmental conditions, the first objectives of the trials (i.e. to provide a relative ranking of the best growing provenances, regardless of traits on fruit production, oil or azadirachtin content), may have already been achieved. It was suggested that a case study be carried out on the Tanzanian trials towards the development of practical recommendations on thinning, assessment of core characters and relevance of additional surveys. DFSC indicated their interest in principle to technically support this work, in close collaboration with other interested members and FAO. The outcome of the case study could be presented at the next workshop of INN.

In all other trials surveyed, especially in experiments established in dry areas, technical recommendations agreed upon in 1997, re the identification of minimum descriptors of provenance fitness (core characters), and their assessment, which had been summarized in the Grey Booklet, were generally found to be still valid and useful. In addition, it was suggested, as a rule of the thumb, that individual plots with less than 25% of living trees (or less than five living trees) should be excluded from the analysis.

Global evaluation

Although a wide range of institutions, agencies and projects have addressed neem use and fruit processing, at industrial level or by rural farmers, the INN is still reported to be the unique mechanism addressing neem provenance adaptation at global level.

The relevance of a global evaluation, which would aim at studying the behaviour of individual seed sources in different environments, was discussed. Participants agreed that such evaluation should be based on, and complement, the conclusions drawn from individual trials. It was suggested that a starting point could consist in gathering information from individual trials established in similar climatic ranges (e.g., dry-zone, humid zone, possibly intermediate or temperate zone?). IFGTB, Coimbatore, volunteered to initiate the compilation of data from trials in the humid tropics (including trials in Coimbatore, Thailand, Lao PDR, and Tanzania) if technical support from DFSC and FAO was available. AFRI also expressed their interest in principle to support the global assessment initiative, concentrating in arid zone experiments. FAO and DFSC agreed to follow up with IFGTB and AFRI in the matter and to report to other members. The preliminary results of the global evaluation attempt, in the climatic sub-regions, could be presented during the next workshop of the INN.

Exchange, publication and dissemination of results.

All participants confirmed their willingness to share data and results with other INN members and expressed great interest in publishing results and conclusions from individual experiments, through various means of communication. It was agreed that results already available and presented during the workshop would be included in the workshop proceedings as soon as possible (in 2001) by AFRI and disseminated by FAO.

A more comprehensive dataset is expected in the near future, hopefully including countries not represented at the workshop. Some participants suggested that DFSC could help in finalising the publication of the global evaluation, in line with previous technical documents of the INN. DFSC expressed their interest in principle, pointing out that, while they could consider publishing the conclusions of a global evaluation, after the next workshop, the preliminary results drawn from analyses in climatic sub-regions could ideally be disseminated by the processing institutions (AFRI and IFGTB).

The draft version of the INN homepage developed by FAO was presented. AFRI kindly proposed to improve the logo of the neem leaf that would appear on the page. Some updates, especially in the mailing lists, were suggested. Participants agreed that the full identity of the national contact point (including email and fax number) should be made public as a first step. FAO will take the remarks into consideration, and circulate a CD ROM of the homepage with the latest updates to all INN members, before posting the information on the Internet. There was general agreement to make INN information through the FAO Forestry Server, with relevant links to member institutions, as available and appropriate. It was also suggested that some space be devoted to present activities carried out by member countries in the framework of the INN, under national responsibility.

Contacts with other INN members

Since some member institutions (including Forest Research Institute, Bangladesh; Institut d’Economie Rurale, Mali; Forest Research Institute, Myanmar; and Forest Institute, Pakistan), could not be represented at the workshop, it was suggested that they would be approached and presented the outcome and recommendations of the workshop, for possible comments and contributions. APAFRI and AFRI kindly volunteered to directly approach some institutions, complementing the efforts of FAO and DFSC.

Links with other initiatives

A short presentation was given of the activities carried out by Henry Doubleday Research Association (HDRA) with the financial assistance of the British Department of International Development (DFID) in India, and in particular a project maturity workshop in Pune (April 2000) followed by an electronic conference. FAO and DFSC had provided in-kind inputs to these initiatives, where the INN was mentioned several times and some recommendations were made regarding possible future activities that INN members may wish to consider. It appeared that most recommendations made by participants to HDRA initiatives were related to chemical analyses of neem oil and azadirachtin, and were thus not directly relevant to the scope and the workplan of the Network at this stage.

Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur, under the supervision of Indian Council of Agriculture Research, presented their activities in the framework of the Indian National Neem Network on Integrated Neem Development. A number of candidate plus trees, selected in different climatic conditions in Rajasthan, are being investigated with a view to selecting and breeding the best performing trees, and enhancing adaptability, vigour, oil production and chemical compounds concentration.

DFSC informed participants about research work on seed physiology carried out in the framework of a DFSC/IPGRI project on handling and storage of recalcitrant tropical forest tree seed. Neem seed conservation is being studied by ASEAN Forest Tree Seed Centre, Thailand, and a technical report should be published later this year. IFGTB, Coimbatore, also kindly proposed to provide National Tree Seed Programme, Tanzania, with technical information on handling and storage of neem seed, including protocols developed locally.

Issues of germplasm access, exchange and transfer.

FAO presented a overview of the issues related to access to and exchange of germplasm at international and national level. Background information was provided on existing regulations, and potentially challenging developments regarding intellectual property rights and patenting systems. ICFRE presented the case of India, where awareness of the issue was suddenly raised at national level when IPR restrictions and patent applications were filled outside the country for a number of indigenous plant species, including neem. Models of Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) developed by various forest research organizations were provided to participants, for information.

The group then discussed the possible implications of the on-going international debate over access to and exchange of genetic resources on the very functioning of the INN. It was found that the founding principles of the network, agreed in Jodhpur in 1994, was still fully valid and relevant. In particular, Article 1. "Free availability to all network collaborators of seed for research purposes on an exchange basis ", and Article 3."Free availability to all network collaborators of trial and research results" are in line with all MTA agreements presented during the workshop. In addition, the INN has published and disseminated comprehensive documentation re seed sources and the origin of materials exchanged in international provenance trials.

Participants confirmed their willingness to continue providing free access to neem germplasm to all network members for research purposes (i.e. in small quantities). It was confirmed that when exchange of neem germplasm is being carried out, the precise origin and provenance of the material should be mentioned explicitly, in addition to other documentation required to obtain import licences (in particular phytosanitary certificates).

The participants requested FAO to continue linking with Future Harvest (ex CG) Centres, in particular IPGRI, regarding the development of mutual agreements on germplasm access and transfer.

Future of the INN and recommended activities

All members expressed their strong interest in the goals and activities of the INN and their willingness to continue contributing to its achievements. The step-by-step approach suggested by the participants, recommending to focus future activities towards the completion of the selection work initiated in individual trials, was endorsed. Priority should be given, in the INN common workplan, to (i) mutually assisting collaborators in collecting and analysing core characters from individual trials; (ii) initiating a case study on the future of the trials in Tanzania, and; (iii) testing the feasibility of sub-regional assessments by climatic zone.

Proposals were made re the next meeting of the network. Although no date was decided, it was agreed that a time frame of 1 ˝ to 2 years would allow members to carry out the main activities and report tangible developments during the next meeting.

The main activities planned in preparation of the next workshop are summarized as follows:

1. Publication of the proceedings of the Data Analysis Workshop

2. Completion of data collection and analysis, and publication of conclusions

3. Case study on trial management and assessment in Tanzania

4. Feasibility study of global assessment starting by climatic zone

5. Dissemination of the INN goals, rules and technical publications on the internet, through the FAO homepage.

Closing Ceremony

The meeting was closed on Sunday 25 March by the Head of Forestry of the Government of Rajasthan, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Mr D.C. Sood, the Director of AFRI, Mr Singhal, and the INN Coordinator, Mr P. Sigaud, who expressed their satisfaction and complimented participants for their commitment and achievements, for the friendly atmosphere of the workshop, and for the constructive recommendations made. The kind attention paid by local organizers to the participants’ needs and requirements was also recognized and appreciated.

Conclusions and immediate follow-up action

The workshop provided a forum for members of the International Neem Network to discuss progress made in provenance trials data collection and analysis. The participants recognized the importance of the INN, a neutral and independent network devoted to assisting member institutions in better conserving and using neem genetic resources, for the overall public good of participating countries. They expressed their commitment to continue progressing in a step-by-step manner, giving priority during the next two years to the publication of results and conclusions from individual trials, and to the initiation of a global synthesis by climatic zones. The next workshop would be convened within two years and would offer the opportunity to report on the progress of the activities undertaken by the collaborators.

Proposed workplan for 2001 – 2002

1. Publication of the Proceedings of the Data Analysis Workshop

AFRI will gather relevant information (inc. workshop report, agenda, list of participants, inaugural speeches, presentations made at the workshop, status reports and data already available from member institutions), and compile the Proceedings. Printing will be done at AFRI. Proceedings will be available in English only, while the report will be translated into French at FAO. 100 copies will be sent to FAO for dispatching to INN members and collaborators. Deadline: end June 2001 for printing, end July 2001 for dispatching.

2. Completion of data collection and analysis, and publication of conclusions

FAO and DFSC will link with concerned institutions and consider the provision of technical assistance required for data collection, analysis or publication of results at local or national level. The objective will be to enable INN member institutions which wish so to disseminate preliminary conclusions of neem provenances adaptation from individual trials.

3. Case study on trial management and assessment in Tanzania

DFSC and FAO will contact National Tree Seed Programme, Tanzania, re the extent and the modalities of the technical assistance that could be provided. It is suggested that a case study on data collection (which data could be collected on older trees) and experimental site management (should the stands be thinned, and how?) could be launched in sites where fast growth is observed. Links will be maintained with INN colleagues in Coimbatore, Myanmar and Thailand. The results of the Tanzanian case-study should be presented, and discussed for possible application and extension, during the next workshop of the INN, before end 2002.

4. Feasibility study of global assessment by climatic zone

AFRI, Jodhpur, and IFGTB, Coimbatore, have proper facilities and overall capacities to assist the INN in preliminary compilation of existing data, and initiating global analysis of individual trial results, by climatic zone, provided some external technical and financial assistance be provided. It is proposed that AFRI coordinate work on dry-zone areas (including experiments established in Burkina Faso, Mali, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Pakistan), and that IFGTB coordinate work for humid tropical areas (including trials set up in Coimbatore, Tanzania and Thailand). Trials established in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and possibly Vietnam could be either grouped in a third sub-set, or dealt within the frame of other groups.

Since this work entails gathering technical information from INN institutions in other countries, it is proposed that AFRI and IFGTB take this opportunity to publish this information (data and results from analyses of individual trials) and disseminate it to other INN members. AFRI and IFGTB should regularly inform INN members of the progress of the work.

5. Dissemination of the INN goals, rules and technical publications on the internet, through the FAO homepage

FAO will update the draft neem homepage in the light of comments received during the workshop. The kind assistance of AFRI (Dr Tarun Kant) in improving the logo of the neem leaf would be appreciated. A revised version of the proposed homepage will be sent to all INN members on CD ROM for remarks and comments, and possible suggestions to incorporate information on national activities carried out in the framework of the INN. Deadline: the CD ROM should be ready and sent before end July 2001.

In addition, FAO will gather and dispatch to INN members documentation requested during the workshop.

- Jodhpur, India, 25 March 2001 -


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