You probably might have heard of castor beans farming, or maybe not. Anyways, in this article, I want to discuss the worthiness or not of farming castor beans in Zimbabwe. It is unquestionable how agriculture has become so abuzz in Zimbabwe. Most Zimbabweans now realize their incomes from some form of agricultural activities. It is also great to appreciate the increasing uptake of greenhouse farming and farming techniques such as drip irrigation. These and more are drowning the scourge of climate change, making it possible to successfully do farming all year round.
What Are Castor Beans And Its Importance?
Castor beans are known to produce oil which is central to over 700 different types of products. Some of the major areas of application are medical drugs, lubricants, beauty products, renewable energy sources (biodiesel), and plastics, amongst others.
In 2019 Oil Castor Zimbabwe revealed they had developed a formula for the production of B100 biodiesel from castor beans. This shows the important contribution castor beans can make towards fuel production. They mentioned that they have a hybrid castor beans seed which constitutes as much as 80 per cent oil.
This means that 1 tonne of castor beans translates to 800 litres of castor oil, which in turn is input in a process that ends up with about 680 litres of biodiesel. I think this is an interesting area of focus!
I say so because they highlighted some interesting projections as follows:
Seed Quantity – 5000 (less than 2 kilograms)
Yield – 42 tonnes (this is for the entire lifespan of the crop)
Biodiesel Yield – 28 000 litres
I am taking a bit of some time here talking about Oil Castor Zimbabwe because they have been very supportive of castor beans farming in Zimbabwe. Last year they invested close to US$200 000 purchasing castor beans under an initiative where Zimbabwean farmers (about 400 of them) were using their hybrid seed. Oil Castor Zimbabwe uses castor beans for the processing of not only biodiesel but also vehicle oils and cosmetic products.
You can get in touch with them on Facebook. You can also contact them or check out their catalogue of products on WhatsApp, +263 717 380 313.
There is also an interesting castor bean farming opportunity by the Zimbabwe Open University. You can check it out here.
In Zimbabwe, it is postulated that castor bean farming can rake in over US$7 billion every year in export earnings. It is also projected that it can create hundreds of thousands of jobs if well practised.
Why Castor Beans Can Be A Good Fit?
Castor beans are typically much easier to farm, unlike other crops. They can thrive in many different types of soils and are robust enough to withstand drought conditions. To give you some perspective on this, farmers successfully propagate castor beans in Binga (a generally arid region). Some farmers have even remarked on how the incidence of pests is low or non-existent due to how most animals and insects are indifferent to its existence. The harvest aspect is quite interesting for castor beans. For an effective average of 5 (or even 7) consecutive years, one can realize 3 yields (every 4 months) in a year – this is unlike most crops.
Some Sticky Issues
There have been cases of people who were scammed in this castor farming business. There was a particular agri-services company that was offering farmers fertilizers and castor bean seeds. The cost of that was around US$525. They would promise the farmers that they would buy the castor beans from them for US$1000 per tonne. However, after getting the castor beans they would never pay as promised. So it is important to be wary of such entities. Do thorough due diligence before starting any such castor beans farming initiatives.
The other thing you must appreciate is how tricky the castor farming business is. There seem to be too many bottlenecks and middle person arrangements. This means farming and marketing castor beans on your own is somewhat hectic especially considering that castor beans are not for human consumption. So you must do homework to ascertain who or where you will sell to. You would not want a scenario where you are stuck with a product you cannot sell.
The prospects vary between those just farming castor beans in general and those doing castor beans seed farming. You will find that on average, castor beans seed farmers can realize US$7 more per kilogram than general castor beans farmers. Overall, it is a tricky business venture but if you tick all the necessary boxes well you can score big for sure.