Castor seed production in India is expected to grow 88% to 20.36 lakh tonne in 2019-20 compared to the previous year, according to a survey. Last year, the country produced 10.82 lakh tonne of castor seed. According to the survey conducted by ‘Agriwatch’ or Indian Agribusiness Systems, commissioned by the Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEA), castor seed production in Gujarat, a major producer of the commodity, is estimated to be 17.44 lakh tonne in 2019-20, 96% more than 8.89 lakh tonne produced last year.
The survey findings were released at the recently held annual Global Castor Conference organised by SEA. SEA conducts castor crop survey for estimation in major growing states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana every year.
The total area under castor seed cultivation in India for the year 2019-20 is estimated to be 9.92 lakh hectare, up 29% against 2018-19 estimate of 7.695 lakh hectare. The acreage is reported to have increased across all top producing districts of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. India’s average castor seed productivity for 2019-20 is estimated to be 2,052 kg/ha as compared to 1407 kg/ha last year.
The Gujarat government estimates the growth of 39 % in total area under castorcultivation in the state for 2019-20 at roughly 7.41 lakh hectare as against about 53,400 hectare last year. The Agriwatch survey pegs the growth at 44%.
Major reasons for the increase in acreage this year is higher returns to the farmers of the crop last season and good seasonal rainfall this year in all growing districts.
The estimated average yield for 2019-20 is expected to be 2,355 kg/ha against last year’s estimate of 1,666 kg/ha, an increase by 41%. Overall, the farmers are expecting an increase in yield this year due to good monsoon and improved availability of water for irrigation, the survey said. Seed arrivals haven’t started yet in the state due to delayed sowing.
In Rajasthan, the production is estimated to be 2.35 lakh tonne in 2019-20, an increase of 60% from last years’ estimate of 1.47 lakh tonne. The total area under castor in Rajasthan for the year 2019-20 is taken to be 1.542 lakh hectare as per the government’s estimates against last year’s estimate of 1.380 lakh hectare, up by 12%. However, Agriwatch’s estimate for Rajasthan’s 2019-20 area under castor stands at 1.766 lakh hectare, an increase of 28% compared to government’s estimated area for 2018-19.
The average yield estimate for 2019-20 surged by around 43% to 1,523 kg/ha from 1,067 kg/ha last year. The total area under castor in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana for 2019-20 is taken to be 57,350 hectare as per the government’s estimates against last year’s estimate of 60,270 hectare, which has declined by 5%. Total production in the state is estimated to be 0.33 lakh tonne during 2019-20 as compared with 0.23 lakh tonne in 2018-19.
In terms of productivity of castor in kg per hectare (ha), the estimated average for 2019-20 is 2,389 kg/ha against last year’s estimate of 1,751 kg/ha, an increase of 36%. Meanwhile, castor seed prices have fallen due to lower castor oil demand from China amidst the Coronavirus outbreak. After falling by over 10 % by January 2020, castor seed prices are expected to fall further by 10-12 %. During the calendar year 2019 castor oil and derivative exports were affected and dropped almost 9% compared to similar period of 2018, Atul Chaturvedi, president, SEA said.
“China slowdown resulted in exports to that nation plummeting nearly 16%. With the virus hitting China we are not sure how things would pan out this year. In value terms, castor oil and derivatives contribute about $1.4 billion or about Rs 10,000 crore to India’s export revenues,” he said. China accounts for roughly 70 % of India’s castor oil exports.