This profile was prepared when Wirajit Lianchamroon was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1992.
The New Idea
While Lianchamroon was working with the Appropriate Technology Association she conducted a surveying project called "Investigation for Chemical Replacement," part of which involved producing a manual detailing alternate pest control methods used in Thailand and other countries in the past and present. Striking her most was the fact that the basic knowledge already exists to control pests with natural substances, which, unlike chemical products, do not upset the ecology by indiscriminately killing beneficial insects and polluting soil and water.She organized several friends working in NGOs in agriculture and community development to establish Natural Plants Co., Ltd, a company dedicated to developing botanical alternatives to chemical agricultural products. As a company with the spirit of an NGO (most of the profits are reinvested back into product development and social programs), the goal of Natural Plants is to provide a business-like environment independent of outside funding, which should be self-sufficient within a few years.Working with a group of farmers using an extract of the neem leaf to control pests, Lianchamroon learned that an extract from the seed is more effective; she developed her first product, Neemix, based on a formula using neem and galanga rhizome in the form of powder. It has proven effective in small gardens, but is not concentrated enough to be practical for large-scale, intensive use. Natural Plants Co. is currently developing its next product, one suitable for use by farmers, pending the purchase and adaption of necessary production equipment made possible through a grant from a German Foundation. She has received special training at the Justus Liebig University in Germany in the Neem Project and will have cooperation in improving and expanding Natural Plant's line of neem products.