Castor Program In India

India is the world’s largest producer of castor seed (Ricinus communis L.) and meets most of the global demand for castor oil. India produces 1.2-1.5 million tons of castor seed annually accounting for more than 80% of the entire global production.
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Why It Began

Castor farming in India is done by numerous smallholders, mostly family farms. Especially on this level, the supply chain of castor oil shows sustainability challenges (social, health, safety and environmental risks). Castor oil is used for a variety of applications in several industries, e.g. Coatings & Paints, Pharma, Lubricants, Engineering Plastics, Crop Protection and Personal & Home Care.

On May 2, 2016, the companies Arkema, BASF and Jayant Agro as well as the NGO Solidaridad signed a contract to foster sustainability in the castor oil supply chain. Under the name “Sustainable Castor Initiative – Pragati” (Hindi for “progress”), the four project members aim to improve the livelihood of castor farmers and contracted workers by supporting them to optimise yield and reduce environmental impact.

Therefore, a community initiative with 3,000 castor farmers from Gujarat (India) has been built. They are trained on good agricultural practices, for example regarding best practices in irrigation, crop rotation or soil treatment. The farmers have been supported during a complete crop season, from soil treatment to seed sales into the market. In addition, the project team has promoted children’s education and facilitated the famers’ and their contracted workers’ access to social security systems. The project extended for another three years.

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