Chennai, Feb. 21:
Castorseed production this year's season to October is likely to be 36 per cent higher, thanks to a 34 per cent rise in crop acreage. But a 3 per cent drop in the yield has capped further gains in production, according to a study conducted by Nielsen for the Solvent Extractors Association of India.
According to the study, with area under castor increasing to 11.5 lakh hectares (lh) from 8.6 lh, production is seen rising to a record 16.19 lakh tonnes (lt) from 12.5 lt a year ago.
Gujarat, which accounts for over half of the area under castor and nearly three-fourths of the crop produced in the country, will see its production increase 36 per cent to 12.26 lt (9 lt). However, yield is seen dropping by 6 per cent this season.
Area under the crop this season has increased to 6.97 lh from 4.83 lh a year ago.
The solvent extractors' body said area under the crop rose by over 50 per cent in Kutch, Surendranagar, Vadodra and Patan districts.
Lower yield in Gandhinagar and Sabarkantha districts has capped production gains.
According to the Solvent Extractors Association, the projections have been made after three rounds of pickings.
Two more pickings will take place in April and May before a final figure on the crop can be arrived at, a statement issued by it said.
Another major factor for this year's improved production is the performance of Rajasthan where output is likely to top 2 lakh tonnes. In fact, the study has estimated a production of 2.07 lt from 1.69 lh against 1.8 lt produced from 1.27 lh last year.
Things could have been far better in the north-western State but for a 14 per cent drop in yield to 1,222 kg a hectare.
The association said area under castor has increased in all growing districts — Barmer, Jalore, Jodhpur, Pali, Sirohi. The yield is lower this season due to inadequate rainfall during growth state of the crop coupled with dew and water shortage, it said.
Though the area under castor has increased by 16 per cent to 2.3 lh in Andhra Pradesh this season, a poor yield of 677 kg a hectare is capping the production gain to 11 per cent at 1.56 lt. An indifferent monsoon is one of the reasons for the poor yield in the southern State, where other crops such as cotton and pulses have also suffered.
“This year, all castor-growing districts received rain that was 25 per cent lower than the average rainfall. Last year, it was 36 per cent higher than average,” the Solvent Extractors Association said.
Castor is grown in Anantapur, Kurnool, Mahbubnagar, Prakasam and Rangareddy districts mainly.
Contribution from the rest of the country is seen almost unchanged in terms of area, production and yield.
India's castorseed production makes up 65 per cent of the global output, while it makes up 51 per cent of the castor oil production. At least 75 per cent of the castor oil produced in the country is exported, mainly to the US, Europe and Japan.
Castor oil is an important raw material for industries manufacturing soap, surface coatings, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, perfumes, greases and lubricants.
During the April-January period of the current fiscal, 3.24 lt castor oil have been exported worth Rs 3,204.48 crore. During the entire fiscal last year, exports were 3.43 lt valued at Rs 2,362.46 crore.