Castor Yield Doubles to 4,000 Kg per Hectare under SEA’s Program

Castor seed yield has doubled from 2000 kg to 4000kg/hectare in two villages of Gujarat under SEA’s castor seed development program.castoroil-seed

Buoyed by the success, SEA will be extending this program to Rajasthan. While the first program saw sowing over 300 hectares, under the extended program SEA aims at castor sowing on over 1,500 hectares of land.

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New Disease Resistant Castor Seed to Yield 1800 Kg / hectare

Castor-Oil-Seeds2Highlights

  • The new HCH-6 seeds have been developed by scientists at UAHS, Shivammoga
  • Yield in the case of traditional varieties said to be declining by the year owing to disease
  • Farm trial of new varieties have been completed and the hybrid castor seeds could yield up to 30% higher output
  • They are awaiting official approval for release

Scientists at the University of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences (UAHS), Shivamogga (Karnataka), have developed disease-resistant varieties of castor seeds.

Castor seeds are widely cultivated in dry regions of Chitradurga, Davangere and Tumakuru districts. However, the yield of castor seed has been waning owing to fusarium wilt and white fly infection.

Scientists at zonal agricultural and horticultural research station of the university at Hiriyur have developed a disease-resistant and high-yield variety of castor seed named HCH (Hybrid Castor Hiriyur)-6, which is a fusion of DPC-9 and TMV-6 varieties. If cultivated as a solo crop, the yield of HCH-6 variety is said to be around 18 quintals a hectare of land, while it was around 13-14 quintals a ha in other existing varieties.

(A quintal equals 100 Kg)

As part of the farm trial, Lakshmanappa, a farmer from Holalkere in Chitradurga district, who had cultivated HCH-6 variety of castor in his land, said that the yield had increased by around 22 per cent and the plants were free from wilt infection.P. Narayanaswamy, Director of Research, UAHS, Shivamogga, said that KPR-1 paddy and HCH-6 castor seeds would be released after getting approval from the State-level Variety Release Committee and the Central Sub-committee on Crop Standards, Notification and Release of Varieties. The seeds of both the varieties would be released by June, 2016, he said.

If indeed the castor seed yields could be increased to 1.8 tons/hectare, this could be a big boost to farmers, as the country’s average is hovering only about 1.3-1.4 T/hectare as mentioned earlier. And with the castor seeds seeing an overall upswing in prices in the past few years and hovering at about Rs 40/Kg (though 2015 saw slightly lower prices than 2014), such increases in yields could result in many more farmers taking up castor cultivation.

Source: The Hindu

Evofuel Expands Castor Activity in Brazil with Insolo

Evogene Ltd. has signed an agreement between its wholly owned subsidiary Evofuel Ltd. and Insolo Agroindustrial S.A. for the selection and optimization of Evofuel’s propriEvogene Ltd.etary castor bean varieties in Insolo farms.

The two-year collaboration will examine the sustainability and adaptability of the growing castor varieties in the farms. The two companies will jointly evaluate the economic and agronomic benefits of castor seed varieties in this area, selecting the best varieties and developing the agronomic know-how to integrate the castor seed varieties into Insolo’s production system.

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Castor Cultivation and Yields in China

The table below provides the production rate of castor seed in china, during the years 2011-12 and 2012-13.

  Production (‘000 T) Area Harvested(‘000 Ha)        Yield  (T/H)
175 180 210 210 0.86 0.86

It can be seen from the above table that the yields of castor seeds in China are almost on par of those in India (which is about 1 T/ha/year. An earlier post showed how the yield is far lower in Brazil.

China is the second largest producer of castor. It contributes about 7-10% of the world‘s castor seeds production.  It uses about 60% of its castor oil for the production of Sebacic acid.

In 2011, China exported 0.13 million T of castor oil, which increased to 0.18 million T in 2012 and estimated to be 0.17 million T in 2013.

Yield, Productivity and Toxicity Challenges in Castor Industry

There are three major issues with respect to castor yield and productivity challenges. They are

  • Castor cultivation of crop on marginal lands without inputs (fertilizers and irrigation) produces poor yields
  • Lack of improved varieties and hybrids
  • Lack of mechanization in cultivation & harvesting

Toxicity Challenge

  • The ricin in castor crop is a barrier to its cultivation in many developed countries – especially US and parts of Europe
  • GM castor with no ricin could be a solution

Apart from this, there are other challenges faced in castor industry. They are:

  • Difficulty in further expansion of area in India primarily due to lack of seed marketing to non-traditional areas
  • Grown under rain-fed condition without following improved package of practices
  • Lack of suitable cultivars for intercropping system
  • Lack of resistant/ tolerant varieties/hybrids for eating caterpillars and macrophomma disease

Possible Solution to Overcome Price and Supply Volatility Challenge

With India dominating castor production with over 80% of the total global production, it gives rise to a number of constraints and challenges. One of them being the price and supply volatility owing to the entire world depending on one country for supplies.

Thus, one of the ways to overcome the price and supply volatility challenge is to increase the geographical diversity of cultivation.

Emerging Geographies are

Americas

  • Mexico

Africa

  • Ethiopia
  • Angola
  • South Africa

Asia & Middle East

  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Philippines
  • Israel

Emerging Techniques and Research to Increase Yield in Castor

Increasing the yield of castor from 1 T/hectare per year (the average right now in India) to something much higher is a highly desirable outcome, but not very easy.

The best way to overcome yield challenge in castor industry is to concentrate more on research and development (R&D) area.

Many techniques are emerging in R&D sector to increase the yield of castor. These include

  • Hybrids: Selection of Hybrids to increase yield, branching, non-shattering and high oil content. e.g.- HC1, HC2,…8 also, advanced hybrids like TSP 10R VP1 lata, etc.
  • Cross Pollination: Under natural conditions, cross pollination in castor can exceed 80%, but the actual level of cross pollination is dependent on both genotype and environmental conditions. Germplasm storage under cryogenic conditions keeps up the viability of seeds even after 30 days
  • Other techniques like enriching the soil with zinc content

Castor Farming in India – Structure, Constraints and Contract Farming

Castor Farming Structure in India

In India, there are both independent farmers and contract farmers, but the significant majority comprises independent farmers. There are thousands of small, independent castor crop farmers in India, ownership ranging from just a couple of hectares to hundreds of hectares.

Constraints Faced by Indian Castor Farmers

The constraints reported by farmers include

  • Poor monetisation of their crop
  • Harvesting problems
  • Occurrence of pests and diseases

Castor Contract Farming in India

Even in contract farming, it has been seen that contract periods are not long duration, typically a couple of years.  However, some recent efforts are made by corporates to do contract farming in Gujarat, AP and Odisha.

It is observed that the cultivation of castor under contract farming is a profitable proposition under dry land condition, and estimates suggest that the returns are more remunerative than in the case of independent farming.

Delayed Monsoon Increases Castor Sowing Area by 10- 15%

Delayed monsoon and insufficient rainfall encourage the farmers to shift to castor seed from other crops. Sowing of castor is likely to increase during mid- August. Many of the groundnut farmers have preferred castor seed due to the fear of crop failure owing to insufficient rainfall and delayed onset of monsoon. Therefore the castor sowing area is expected to increase by 10- 15%, than the nominal figure. At present, the castor seed price range between Rs.805- 835 per 20kg, while the year before, it was ruling between Rs. 650- 750 per 20kg. According the Solvent Extract Association data, India’s export of castor oil during April to June 2014 has decreased by 6,529 tonnes, on comparison with the export during the same time in 2013.

Source:

http://www.business-standard.com/article/markets/castor-sowing-likely-to-rise-by-15-in-india-114080300688_1.html

Evogene Subsidary and SLC Agricola Colloborate for Castor Bean Production in Brazil

Evogene Ltd., a  plant genomics company specializing in enhancing crop productivity for the food, feed and biofuel industries,  and SLC Agricola S.A., one of Brazil’s largest landowners and agriculture businesses,  have announced that they are signing of a collaboration agreement between SLC and  Evofuel Ltd., Evogene’s wholly-owned subsidiary, for the commercial production of Evofuel developed castor bean varieties in Brazil, expected to take place during 2016. Evofuel focuses on the development of high yielding castor bean seeds as a second-generation feedstock for the growing biofuel and other industrial markets.

Under the terms of the agreement, Evofuel will provide SLC with seeds of its proprietary castor bean varieties and SLC will be responsible for growing the crop on its farms in northeast Brazil. The resulting castor bean grain will be sold to local oil producers to address the industry need for castor oil.  The agreement provides for the allocation between SLC and Evofuel of revenues from sales of castor bean grain.

Commercial sales of castor bean grain under the agreement are expected to take place during 2016, prior to which the two companies will cooperate on scale up and pre-commercial activities for grain production, as well as development of best practices for agronomic management of castor bean in SLC’s commercial production units.

Source: http://www.twst.com/update/48022-evogene-ltd-evogene-subsidiary-and-slc-agricola-sign-collaboration-agreement-for-commercial-production-of-castor-bean-in-brazil

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