Leading chemical companies have empowered 1,019 Indian farmers in their journey to create a framework for sustainable castor bean production.
Arkema, a global leader in specialty chemicals and advanced materials; BASF, the world’s leading chemical company; Jayant Agro-Organics Ltd., a pioneer in castor oil based chemicals in India, and Solidaridad, an international civil society organization, came together for Project Pragati (Hindi word for progress).
With this first-of-its-kind initiative globally, the companies are developing a sustainable castor framework titled SuCCESS (Sustainable Castor Caring for Environmental & Social Standards).
To raise castor productivity by working closely with farmers, Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEA), the national body of the vegetable oil industry, will establish 200 model farms for castor cultivation in five districts of Gujarat, which accounts for 80% of castor production in India.
These model farms, on 3-4 bighas, will be developed in Banaskantha, Patan, Sabarkantha, Junagadh and Kutch.
It is well known that castor seeds contain a poisonous toxin ricin. For farmers and other agriculturists involved in cultivation of castor and other vegetable crops, there would be a feeling of uncertainty as to whether cultivation of castor and other vegetable crops can be done in the same land, due to the poisonous nature of castor seed.
It should be noted that not the entire castor plant is poisonous; the toxin ricin is present only in castor seeds. Even the castor oil extracted from the seeds does not contain any toxin. Only the castor meal contains ricin. Once the plant is harvested and the residue cleaned up at the end of the growing season, there is no poison left out in the cultivated space; hence there is no harm in cultivating other vegetable crops in the same space where castor was cultivated.
Castor oil and meal has many benefits. Castor oil has been used as a purgative since long and still finds many advanced applications. Castor meal is now being utilized in some commercial repellent sprays for squirrels, rabbits, moles and other garden pests.
Castor seed yield has doubled from 2000 kg to 4000kg/hectare in two villages of Gujarat under SEA’s castor seed development program.
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.
The National Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd (NMCE) has announced modification in the castorseed contract, thereby making it deliverable as per the required market specifications. NMCE had constituted a Trade Advisory Committee (TAC) on castorseed for reviewing all the existing contract parameters of the contract and make them deliverable.
The changes in the specifications were necessary to achieve wider participation from all the stakeholders. Currently, three futures contracts for November, December and January 2017 are active. The February 2017 series will be offered as per the delivery specifications.
SEA has launched a pilot project in Gujarat to help farmers increase the productivity of castor seeds to 2,000 kg per hectare from the current average yield of 1,200-1,400 kg a hectare.
The model farm would be supervised by the agriculture scientists and progressive farmers. The beneficial results will motivate many farmers to replicate good practices demonstrated at the model farm and achieve higher yield.
CastorOil.in brings you the weekly report of castor seed price at Bombay Commodities Exchange.
Check out the table and the graphical data.
The closing price in the last week was Rs. 3250. This week, there was not much change in the price of castor seed. In general, the prices of castor seed had reduced this week, compared to last week.
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Harvest of castor beans is being carried out in almost all the hamlets in Pachaimalai. The harvest process is being carried out only during late afternoon after allowing the seeds to dry. The oilseed is grown as an intercrop on the boundaries of tapioca farms along with local seeds.
Lack of attractive price for castor had forced the farmers to reduce the area under cultivation. An estimated 40 hectares has been brought under castor cultivation as against 200 hectares till a decade ago.
Solvent Extractors’ Association of India has estimated castor seed production to rise by 10% at 1.39 million tonnes for the year 2015-16. In 2014-15, the castor seed production stood at 1.27 million tonnes.
As per the latest SEA report, sowing of castor seed crop increased to 1.13 million hectares this year, as against 1.10 million hectares last year. It is expected that castor seed production in Gujarat will increase by 8% to 1.15 million tonnes as against 1.06 million tonnes last year.
This post has little to do with the castor industry and more with a fascinating aspect of castor seeds – the fact that they look rather cool while at the same time containing ricin.
Came across an interesting news item on this – a bunch of students in Canada mistook castor seeds for lychee seeds and consumed them.
Now, it is not exactly easy to consume castor seeds – they are really tasty, that is for sure – but somehow these lads had consumed them. Thankfully, everything ended well after this mistake was discovered early and the students were treated.
But it once again throws light one of the very few concerns that folks have with the castor crop – its poisonous seeds.
Many times, I ask about this to farmers in India who grow castor and they say that they rarely if ever have heard of any humans eating these by accident and falling ill or worse. In fact, they mention that even animals do not eat them as these are not edible seeds and the animals sense that these seeds are not good. (even if you ingest them accidentally, the ricin takes effect only if you chew and masticate the seeds)
So, overall one can perhaps say that the castor seeds in theory seem to pose some danger but unless used intentionally (and they have been – see here and here), its ricin seems to have done little damage so far.
How the students mistook castor seeds for lychee seeds is a bit intriguing, though I must say the seeds do have some similarities
Castor Seed Images – Image 1 & Image 2
Lychee Seed Images – Image 1 & Image 2