Kharif castor sowing for 2022-23 season in the country has gone up by over 1,00,000 hectare from 0.74 million hectare to more than 0.88 million hectare due to prevailing higher prices of oilseeds, as per Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEAI).
Due to prevailing higher prices of castor seeds, farmers have opted for castor crop over groundnut in Gujarat and Rajasthan – the two major castor seed producing states, said Atul Chaturvedi, president of SEAI.
Earlier this year, prices of all edible oils, including castor oil, increased sharply in wake of Russia-Ukraine war. Although prices of all other edible oils dropped but castor oil prices remained higher.
“Prices of castor seeds in the current month have crossed Rs 1,500 per 20 kg in the domestic market which was around Rs 1,200 per 20 kg in September 2021, “said Shailesh Baldha, Head, Castor Division, Adani Wilmar. According to him, prices of castor oil too are as high as $1,850 (nearly Rs 1.48 lakh) per tonne compared to nearly $1,300 (nearly Rs 1.04 lakh) per tonne last season in the same month.
The main reason for higher prices of castor is tight supply of the commodity during the current 2021-22 season. Due to this factor, prices of castor oil remained higher despite a dip in exports, Baldha said. As per SEAI, exports of castor oil remained at 4,19,759 MT for the first eight months (January-August) of the current calendar year as against 5,03,420 MT during the same period of year 2021.
Due to recession in China, castor oil exports have plummeted but tight supply kept the prices high globally. With over 40% share in India’s total exports, China is the biggest consumer of castor oil from India. Carry forward stock of castor was less than 1,00,000 tonne in the current 2021-22 season compared to 2,50,000 tonne previous year.
For the upcoming 2022-23 season, carry forward stock is likely to remain even lower. Castor oil and its derivatives are used in many industries, including air-conditioning, air-fuel, pharmaceutical, dyes & chemical, soap, paints, inks, plastic, perfumes, adhesive, paper, lubricants, food, rubber and others. The US and European countries are also importing castor oil from India.
Apart from these markets, India also exports castor oil to Middle East and Latin American countries. India is the largest producer of castor and castor oil in the world with almost 90% share. In India, Gujarat has a lion’s share of 80% in production of castor seed. Apart from Gujarat, castor is being cultivated in Rajasthan, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in smaller quantities.