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Satish Lele

Erand (Castor)

Castor farming is expanding at a rapid scale, as it can supply raw material for BioDiesel Manufacture. It is a crop hence it can be mechanized like Rape Seed and Soy. It can be grown in areas where rainfall is less, and in soils which are not suitable for other crops. Since castor oil is not edible, it does not compete with food. Logistics of collection of seeds is easy. According to the U.N., harvesting castor oil requires 12 workers for every 10 acres of castor.
World Scene: Production of Castor Seed is confined mainly to India, China & Brazil, but its consumption is higher in EU Countries, USA & Japan, who use it to produce & consume / export its value-added derivatives. The common name in Latin America for Castor (Ricinus communis) is Higuerilla.

Castor Oil Production & Consumption in 2004-2005 in MT
Castor SeedCastor Oil '000
EU 4.6130
USA  40
Japan  22

Castor seed is the source of castor oil, which has a wide variety of uses. The seeds contain between 40% and 60% oil that is rich in triglycerides, mainly ricinolein. They also contain ricin, a poison, which is also present in lower concentrations throughout the plant, which makes it unsuitable for cooking.
Castor is the best crop for intercropping with Jatropha. In India, it is grown on 713,000 hectors of rain fed land and it yields 850,000 tons of castor seeds per year. Exports of castor oil from India are to the tune of 200,000 to 225,000 tons. India is the largest producer and exporter of castor oil and its share is 60 to 70% of world trade. Presently the uses of castor are limited. The oil is currently used for medicinal purposes and as lubricant or as raw material for colours, soap as well as manufacture of castor oil derivatives, but in future it will be required in large quantities for production of BioDiesel. It has large export potential, as a raw material for manufacture of BioDiesel, to industrialized countries.
Since the roots of castor penetrate deep into soil, and get water from deep soil, it is good for drought prone areas. The crop favours hot and humid climate. It can grow in lands with small soil layer on rocks. In India, it is cultivated in Telangana, Bihar, Gujrath, Tamilnadu, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. It is largely cultivated in drought prone areas where rain fall is 380 to 500 mm per year. This can be cultivated as cash crop in areas where rainfall is good and reliable. The cake is used as organic fertilizer.
The land is fertilized with 60 kgs of Nitrogen and 40 kgs of Phosphorous per hectare. Half of this is spread very close to seeds just before the time of plantation. Rest half is spread just at the time of flowering, or after 45 days of plantation.
Plantation is done by putting seeds in the soil on the onset of monsoon. If monsoon is delayed, it is planted later.
Western 6 or other hybrid varieties are generally planted. It is planted in square formation of 900 x 450 mm. 2 seeds are planted 30 to 50 mm deep. 10 to 20 kgs of seeds is required per hector of plantation. For Aruna variety of castor, it is planted in square formation of 600 x 300 mm. 20 to 22 kgs of seeds is required per hector of plantation.
Girija and Aruna varities can yield production in 160 days. In good soil, it can bear fruits a bit later. Hence you can get higher production. This variety can yield crop for a number of years.
It can be grown with saplings. After 10 15 days, the saplings can be replanted in square formation of 300 x 450 mm. One good sapling is retained at the point and other weaker sapling is removed. The weeds in the field are removed every 15 days.
Castor requires 500 to 650 mm of rain water. The crop is sensitive to high rain fall. Short height hybrid verities are good for low water supply. If water supply is more, the flowering is delayed. To avoid this, water supply is stopped for some time. This leads to higher rate of flowering and higher yields. Water should be available during flowering period. Before collection of fruits and seeds, water supply should be cut off for 3 to 4 weeks. Once the fruits are formed, it does not require water supply. It can anyway absorb water from the soil.
It is infected by some insects and camel worms, and it results in loss of production. If some insects or camel worms are found after 15 days of plantation, pesticides such as sumithion or quinolphos are sprayed on it. Sumithion 50 EC is mixed with 200 ml of water or quinolphos 25 EC is mixed with 500 ml of water and sprayed on the crop. If camel worms spreads very widely, it has to be picked manually and destroyed in kerosene pot. It needs to be protected for first 1 to 2 months from camel worm. Later it is not attacked by camel worm. Some pests might attack the fruits, which can be destroyed using same pesticides.
Fruits dry on the plant. These are then plucked and dried for 4 to 5 days. These can be dehulled by machine or manually. Seeds are separated and cleaned. 1,000 to 1,500 kgs of seeds can be cultivated from 1 hector of rain fed good quality soil and 800 to 1,000 kgs from medium quality soil. If it is irrigated, there can a number of crops, and it can yield 2,000 to 2,500 kgs of seeds.
Comparison with other crops : It can yield crop in 3 to 4 months. 7.5 to 10 kgs of seeds are required for plantation in 1 hectare. It can be cultivated round the year. Since roots penetrate deeper, less water is sufficient. Seeds can be stored for 2 years. Less problems from pests compared to other crops. It can sustain changes in weather very easily.
In your socio-economic projects, please consider the utility ENDI SILK (Contributed by: Gautam Bhattacharya) to meet some of your goals, e.g. employment, raising real income, viable livelihood and empowering women & children. ENDI/ERI can be marketed, and today is marketed by the Assam Government, as non-violent silk, grown on castor and the only silk reeled without cutting short the natural life of the pupae.

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