Introduction to Castor

castor seed

Castor (Ricinus communis L.) is an important non-edible industrial oilseed crop of the arid and semi arid regions of the World. It yields the most useful and economically important plant oil having vast and varied industrial applications such as lubricants, surfactants, surface coating, cosmetics, plastics, resins, paints, pharmaceuticals, adhesives, waxes, polishes, varnishes, perfumes, flavors, textile dyes, textile finishing agents, nylon 11 etc. India, Brazil and China are the most important castor growing countries in the World. Castor cake is considered to be excellent organic manure. In Eri-silk producing areas, castor leaves are fed to Eri-silk worms.

The statistics on Area, Production and Productivity in Major countries for castor are given in table below (2014-15).

Country / State Area (Million ha) Production (Million Tonnes) Productivity  (Kg/ha)
India 1.04 (70%) 1.73 (88%) 1666
China 0.046 0.40 870
Brazil 0.064 0.38 592
World 1.48 1.95 1346
Indian Major States
Gujarat 0.56 (53%) 0.96 (71%) 2086
Rajasthan 0.20 0.29 1452
Andhra Pradesh 0.05 0.024 471

Source: Oilseeds Statistics – A Compendium. 2015,

ICAR-Indian Institute of Oilseeds Research, Hyderabad, India

The values in brackets are percent share.

India is the World leader in castor production and sole exporter of castor oil, seed and some of its derivatives. Its total castor production is 1.73 million tonnes obtained from 1.40 million ha with a productivity of 1666 kg/ha in 2014-15 and the international castor oil trade earned foreign exchange to the tune of around 20000 Million INR. Within India, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh are the major castor growing states in India. Gujarat is the leading castor growing state of the country having crop are around 0.46 million lakh hectares with 0.96 million tonnes production and productivity exceeding 2000 kg/ha. Thus, Gujarat shares about 53% of the area and 71% of the total castor production of the country.

Growth of Castor in Gujarat:

The extraordinary growth of castor cultivation and productivity in Gujarat can be attributed to three factors,

  1. Technology generation and enhanced irrigation facility.
  2. Speedy adoption of new technology by farmers.
  3. Availability of sale market to farmers at their door steps with reasonably good prices.

The state is pioneer in the development and release of hybrid in castor. The world first castor hybrid, GCH-3 released in Gujarat for general cultivation in 1968. Subsequently, a series of genetically superior productive, many of them resistant to fusarium wilt and root rot diseases, were released from Public and Private sector research efforts. These hybrids are highly responsive to high management of irrigation and fertilizers. This coupled with quality seed production and distribution has been one of the principal reasons for boosting production of castor in Gujarat.     

The farmers of the State are adoptive to new technology of improved hybrid seeds with fine tuned agronomical recommendations from scientists which include time of sowing, spacing, fertilizers, plant protection measures etc. for different agro-climatic zones of the State. This was further got boost from increased irrigation facility through Bore well, Canal of major and minor irrigation projects, drip and sprinkler irrigation.

The Agriculture Produce Market Committee structure spread all across the State (about 250 APMC) provided door stem market to farmers to sale their production on Cash. The castor oil industry set up in the State and other parts of India supported absorbing total commercial production of the State.

Thus cohesive and supportive system attracted farmers to grow castor on large scale and thus Gujarat became castor bowl of India. The model needs to be replicated in other parts of India as well as other castor growing countries.

A very systematic and scientific seed production programs are undertaken with a strong support from Govt for quality control. This resulted in a sharp increase in average productivity of the State from 352 Kg/ha in 1970 to 2000+ Kg/ha in 2015.