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Castor

CASTOR OIL AND SEED

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As purgative extracted from the seed of the castor plant; used in paint and varnish as well as medically. 

Major Trading Centres

The major castor oil markets in India are -

  • Gujarat
    • Rajkot
    • Ahmedabad
    • Gondal
    • Gadwal
    • Bhabar
  • Andhra Pradesh
    • Jedcherla
    • Yemignoor


OVERVIEW

Castor (Ricinus communis L.) is cultivated around the world because of the commercial importance of its oil. India is the world's largest producer of castor seed and meets most of the global demand for castor oil. India contributes 750,000 tonnes annually, and accounting for over 60% of the entire global production. 

Because of its unlimited industrial applications, castor oil enjoys tremendous demand world-wide, estimated at about 220,000 tonnes per annum. The current consumption of Castor Oil and its derivatives in the domestic market is estimated at about 100,000 tonnes. India is also the biggest exporter of castor oil holding about 70% share of the international trade in this commodity. 

Castor is an important non-edible oilseed crop and is grown especially in arid and semi arid region. It is originated in the tropical belt of both India and Africa. It is cultivated in 30 different countries on commercial scale, of which India, China, Brazil, USSR, Thailand Ethiopia and Philippines are major castor growing accounts about 88 per cent of the world's production. Historically, Brazil, China and India have been the key producing countries meeting global requirements. However, in early 90's, Brazilian farmers moved away to more lucrative cash crops, and surge in domestic demand in China made them net importers, leaving India to meet the global demand. 

Cropping Season

In India, Castor planting season is during July or August and harvested around December or January. The seedpods are dried, de-podded and brought to the market yards during December or January for trading. 

Swing Time

Sowing of castor with onset of monsoon is found most beneficial in rained condition. However, sowing can be done up to first fortnight of August without reduction in yield under irrigated condition. 

Castor Growing Area & its Production

Castor grows under tropical conditions. It loves heat and humidity and does best in regions where both are ample. India, gifted with an ideal climatic condition, has recorded a produce of close to 850,000 tones of castor seed. Gujarat produces 86% of the total castor seeds in India followed by Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. Mehsana and Banaskantha are the largest castor producing districts in Gujarat.In Gujarat castor cultivation is comprising 6 districts of North Gujarat, viz., Mehsana, Banaskantha, Sabarkantha, Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad and Kutch. 

Castor Uses

Though India is meeting most of the world's requirement of castor oil we are not capitalizing it. We still continue to export the oil rather than add value to it. We bye back our own castor oil as formulated products and derivatives at many times the price of the oil. 

Castor Oil's application range is very wide-the glamorous uses such as lipsticks and cosmetics to the areas of national security involving engineering plastics, jet engine lubricants and polymers for electronics and telecommunications. 

Castor is a versatile, renewable resource having vast and varied applications such as lubricating grease, surfactants, surface coatings, telecom, engineering plastics, pharma, rubber chemicals, nylons, etc. 

Castor oil and its Derivatives find major application in soaps, lubricants, grease, hydraulic brake fluids, paints and polymers and perfumery products. 

The primary use of Castor oil is as a basic ingredient in the production of nylon 11, jet engine lubricants, nylon 6-10, heavy duty automotive greases, coatings and inks, surfactants, polyurethanes, soaps, polishes, flypapers, paints, varnishes, lubricants, and many other chemical derivatives and medicinal, pharmaceutical and cosmetic derivatives. 

The seeds and residual cake are highly poisonous and unless processed to remove the poisons cannot be fed to livestock. In some countries the cake is used as a fertilizer. Poisons contained in the cake include ricin. 

Import Export

Castor crop plays an important role in the agricultural economy of the earning substantial foreign exchange through export of castor beans and oils. India exports annually about 2.92 lakh tonnes of castor oil there by earning foreign exchange worth Rs. 600 to 700 crores. India is the first country in the world to exploit hybrid vigour on commercial scale in this crop. Export of castor oil, seed and derivative products contributes around Rs 700 crores worth foreign exchange.

Major markets include:

  • Europe
  • USA
  • Japan
  • China
  • Thailand

Castor seed export from India has shown a sharply steady growth upto the year 2000. 

Its versatility and a large number of down-stream products make consumption demand of this oil price-inelastic. 

In the international market, castor oil is one of the most expensive vegetable oils. Despite India's dominant position in the global castor market, we are not price-setters in the Export market, but mere price takers. 

Characteristics of Castor Seed and Oil Market

Uncertain supply - The world castor seed production has fluctuated between 11.59 to 17.48 lakh tons since 1997 to 2001, based on shifting cropping patterns in producing countries. India's production ranged between 7.7 to 10.5 lakh tons since 1997 to 2000 based on frequent crop shifting. 

Fluctuating and uncertain demand - Lately development of artificial substitutes of castor oil in the world market has subjected the demand to fluctuation. 

Wide intra and inter seasonal price variation - The castor seed price tends to firm up during the planting period and eases down during the harvesting period. Prices tend to show inter-seasonal variation of almost Rs 200 - Rs 350 per quintal. 

Long storing period - It is a common practice for the castor seed growers and crushers to hoard the commodity before selling in expectation for better prices. Also castor oil can be kept in containers without spoilage for long period. 

Need for transportation - Ninety percent of castor seed and oil in India is produced in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, whereas the domestic consumption is dispersed all across the country. Also castor seed and oil is exported to various countries, especially European Union, US and Japan in shipments. 

Well-developed and organized spot market - The domestic ready market is quite well developed in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. The major mandi prices near the producing centers, upcountry prices and export prices from ports are available on a daily basis in public domain. The price dissemination is also up to the mark due to the export orientation of the commodity.


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