Castor (RicinuscommunisL.) 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 produces 10 to 12 lakh tonnes of castor seed annually, and accounting for more than 60% of the entire global production.
In India, Castor planting season is during July or August and harvested aroundDecember or January. The seedpods are dried, de‐podded and brought to the marketyards during December or January for trading.Traditionally, castor is a Kharif season crop. Sowing of castor with onset of monsoon isfound most beneficial in rainfed condition. However, sowing can be done up to firstfortnight of August without reduction in yield under irrigated condition. Gujarat is the leading state in castor seeds production in India followed by Rajasthanand Andhra Pradesh.
Castor oil is obtained by pressing the seeds, followed by solvent extraction of thepressed cake. Castor Oil’s application range is very wide. The usages range from cosmetics, paints,synthetic resins & varnishes, to the areas of national security involving engineeringplastics, jet engine lubricants and polymers for electronics and telecommunications.Castor oil and its derivatives find major application in soaps, lubricants, grease,hydraulic brake fluids and polymers and perfumery products.
The major factors influencing the prices are
- Yield in other countries
- Prices of substitute oils
- Domestic and export demand
- Seasonal factors
- Stock availability
- Development of new uses of the oil
India is the largest exporter of castor oil and has a market share of about 85-90%. China and Brazil are the second and third largest producers of castor oil in the global market contributing around 5-7% of the world exports. During the FY2016-17, Indian castor oil exports declined by 11% Y/Y to 4.85 lakh tons due to subdued demand from the international market as it was traded at higher prices on expectation of weaker output.However, in the first six months of FY2017-18, total castor oil exported was around 2.70 lakh tons, up by 3% Y/Y on higher consumption demand from US, Netherland, Russia and Japan.