International Neem Network
Establishment of the NetworkTheFAO Panel of Experts on Forest Gene Resourceshas recognized the actual value and potential of neem tree, and listed it as a top priority species for dry zone tropical countries. The International Neem Network was established in March 1994, following recommendations made at the First and Second International Consultations on Neem Improvement, Bangkok (Thailand) in 1993, and Jodhpur (India), in 1994.
In the first Consultation on Neem Improvement, Bangkok, 18-22 January 1993, participants from 20 countries, including the main countries of the natural range of the species, agreed to initiate an international neem improvement programme coordinated by a panel formed by CIRAD-Forêt (France), DANIDA Forest Seed Centre (DFSC, Denmark), now part of Forest and Landscape Denmark, Forestry/Fuelwood Research and Development Project (F/FRED, Bangkok) and FAO. Global coordination was entrusted to FAO as this Organization was in the best position to facilitate inter-regional cooperation and exchanges. Seed collection and provenance trials establishment would the major activities in the network.
It was decided to undertake pilot activities in a preliminary phase (1993-1994), to test and improve procedures for provenance seed collection, handling and exchange for international trials, and to survey and describe seed-sources. A coordinating meeting was held in October 1993. In 1993, a total of 23 provenances were collected in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand, and dispatched to 14 collaborators in 10 countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. These pilot activities confirmed that neem germplasm could be successfully collected and exchanged for the establishment of international trials, provided optimal procedures for seed collection and handling are carefully followed, and dispatches to trial sites are fast and well coordinated.
The second Consultation on Neem Improvement, Jodhpur (India), 28th February - 4th March 1994, examined the results of the pilot activities and progress made. It was decided that a full scale neem evaluation programme would be initiated by an International Neem Network. Additional pilot seed collections were made later in 1994, in India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Senegal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Training workshops on neem provenance, selection, seed collection, handling and despatch were organized in India in June 1994.
The above mentioned activities of the International Neem Network were funded by the participating countries, and international institutions and projects: CIRAD-Forêt, DANIDA Forest Seed Centre, FAO, F/FRED Project, UNDP/FAO Project on "Improved Productivity of Man-Made Forests", FORSPA and IPGRI (International Plant Genetic Resources Institute), now Bioversity International.