Neem seeds may appear not so important for many, but they have been providing an assured revenue to a group of wholesale dealers in Manapparai, who have been procuring the seeds from retail vendors and market them within and outside Tamil Nadu.
According to a group of traders, a number of small traders bring dried seeds to the wholesale market in Manapparai.
K. Muthusamy, one of the wholesale dealers, points out that they purchase the seeds from retail dealers for Rs.12 a kg and market them for a profit.
It is widely marketed to oil cake units, where the seeds are converted into neem cake. Further, they are used for extracting oil.
The demand for neem cake has been on the rise, particularly in Kerala where spices are grown. “Spices are prone to some pest attack. Neem cake has been acting as a bio-pesticide,” he says.
On an average, five tonnes of neem seed is despatched from Manapparai to different markets in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. It is only during May and June that the wholesale dealers register maximum sale. “The seeds are dried extremely during peak of summer,” says Rajenedran, another dealer.