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This Telugu new year, the Teluguites will miss the Ugadi pachchadi bittetness  as the neem trees are suffering from dievack disease in Telugu States.

The only once in a year Ugadi – a festival of all tastes on the palate may disappoint us this time. This is because this doctor-like Neem (Azadirachta indica) tree for all other plants which acts as ‘sarva vyaadhi nivaarana’ is itself a victim of a rare ‘dieback’ disease, a kind of a fungal infection afflicting thousands of neem trees in Karnataka and the two Telugu states.

The neem flower which is an important ingredient in Ugadi pachadi may become a luxury if the trees cannot get rid of this deadly disease before the shedding and blossoming of new leaves take place by February and March. The tiny white flowers give a totality to the chutney by giving that little sought after bitterness.

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The ensuing two months will tell us whether this robust tree from the plant kingdom is also a victim of climate change. The neem is a well-known natural pesticide and today this tree is unfortunately the victim of a pest which it is unable to ward off. Humans worship this tree and make use of leaves, twigs, flowers, bark and seeds for different purposes.

The neem twig serves as a natural brush inclusive of the juice it produces on chewing which in turn is itself a deterrent to any oral infections. The sight of neem twig being used is common if we go by the village side. It was a kind of throwaway brush cum paste. There used to be a time when these tender twigs used to be sold during the early hours in railway stations and bus stands.

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Soap made out of neem oil is widely advertised for all the good causes it serves. The leaves serve as antiseptic for skin related diseases like chicken pox, small pox and many other external ailments.
Research bodies like Indian IARI, ICAR, NBRI/CSIR should come up with some solution to prevent the recurrence of this disease so that neem trees all over the country do not lose their supremacy of being the best saviour of the world of plants.

In fact, IARI specialises in neem research. The governments, both at the Centre and States should take up this problem on war footing and come up with implementable solutions before it is too late. #KhabarLive #hydnews

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