Neem: The People’s Pharmacy

Schools for Chiapas, in cooperation with Zapatista indigenous authorities and Mayan promoters of ecological agriculture, has helped plant over 30,000 Neem trees throughout the tropical lowlands of Chiapas, Mexico.

Zapatista girl and neem treeIn India, Neem has a 4,000 year history and is famous as “The Pharmacy of the People”; the United Nations declared Neem to be the “Tree of the twenty-first century”.  In Chiapas, the Zapatista communities have invented their own formulas for using Neem to organically remove insect pests from beans, corn, and cattle. Help us continue work with Neem in Zapatista communities.

Neem has numerous anti-bacterial, antifungal, and anti-viral properties with dozens of human health uses including use in the treatment of malaria, chicken pox, small pox, fever, psoriasis, asthma, parasites, measles, as a contraceptive agent, and many other uses. Neem is extraordinarily effective in promoting dental health and Neem sticks are used daily by millions of Indian children and adults to clean their teeth

Further reading about the health uses of Neem, here.

The Neem tree also provides excellent lumber for construction and firewood. It’s leaves and seeds are used to make animal feed, lubricant, fertilizers, insect repellants and a variety of non-patent human and veterinary medicines. For small-scale agriculture, Neem is utilized to make an organic pesticide that is harmless to birds, fish, and mammals, but offers protection against over 200 species of insect pests. Corn grows well next to Neem trees and Neem is often planted around the edge of small fields to promote soil fertility and provide much needed shade from the burning tropical sun. Neem is a dry forest plant with minimal water needs and its deep tap root system does not remove surface water from local fields.

The dream of this project is to grow Neem trees at every Zapatista school, health center, municipal center and Caracol throughout Chiapas. This grassroots effort is directed towards strengthening autonomous school, health and ecological agriculture systems while supporting autonomy and confronting multinational corporate dominance in thousands of small indigenous communities of Chiapas.  Your support is vital.

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