CASTOR BEAN FARMING: In Nigeria, a vast majority of people prefer white collar job to farming without knowing that there are many aspect of farming that is worthy of good investment. Over the years, I have discovered that majority of our youth are either lazy when it comes to farming or they prefer quick riches. But the good news is that it is never too late because Castor beans farming can alleviate your poverty status either as a youth or retirees.
To start with, Castor bean plants, which are not beans at all, are commonly grown in the garden for their striking foliage as well as shade cover. Castor bean plants are stunning with their mammoth star-shaped leaves that can reach 3 feet in length. Please learn more about this interesting plant as well as castor bean plantation in this article. Okay let’s go!
Castor Bean Information
Castor bean plants (Ricinus communis) are native to the Ethiopian region of Africa but have been naturalized in warm climates all over the world. Commonly found in the wild along stream banks, riverbeds on low lying areas, this aggressive vine is the source of one of nature’s best natural oils, castor oil. As far back as 4,000 B.C., castor beans have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. The valuable oil from this tropical beauty was used thousands of years ago to light lamp wicks. Castor bean plantation businesses still exist today, though mainly in tropical regions.
Many varieties of ornamental castor beans are available and make a bold statement in any garden. In tropical regions, it grows as an evergreen shrub or tree that can reach 40 feet in height. In warm areas, this striking plant is grown as an annual. This plant can grow from seedling to a 10-foot tall plant by the end of the summer but will die back with the first frost. In USDA planting zone 9 and above, castor bean plants grow as perennials that look like small trees.
How to go about planting Castor Beans
Growing castor beans is extremely easy because Castor bean seeds start readily indoors and will grow very rapidly. Castor plants like full sun and humid conditions. Provide loamy, moist, but not soaking wet, soil for best results. Soak seeds overnight to aid with germination. In warmer areas, or once the soil can be worked and the threat of frost has passed, castor bean seeds can be sown directly into the garden.
CASTOR BEAN FARMING IN NIGERIA AND AFRICA
Let me also remind you that many people are running away from this farming probably because of the toxicity of this plant. The use of castor bean plants in cultivation is discouraged because the seeds are extremely poisonous. The alluring seeds are tempting to young children. Therefore, growing castor beans in the home landscape is not a good idea if you have children or pets. It should be noted, however, that the toxins do not pass into the oil.
Castor farming has been trending since last year up to this moment I am writing this article. If you check the internet you will see things like “how you can make 50 million in seven years on 10 hectare of castor” or “earn millions of naira farming castor farming in a year”. A lot of juicy talks about castor farming has been circulating the internet for some time now and trust Nigerians they have gone into it without carrying out proper due diligence, and as a result they get their fingers burnt losing their money.
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I have seen some of them looking for whom or where to sell their castor seeds and rake millions, alas no one is ready to buy and if they eventually see, it may be at a ridiculous price. I really don’t pity them because they followed the bandwagons blindly just because of what they heard about making millions of naira in few months.
My dear agro-prenuers take note of this; Agriculture is not a ‘get-rich-quick scheme’ you have to follow business ethics to get you there, that is why I said it ‘may make you’. I really don’t pity these set of people that planted castor without carrying out proper research and seeking for buyers before going tilling the ground. Please don’t get me wrong you can actually make millions of naira in castor production and extraction of the oil from the castor seed (that is where the real money is), but you must have done your homework very well before venturing into it. Trust me; it is not as easy as it is being portrayed on the internet by the cyber farmers. I think I should talk more about castor so we can have an understanding of what I’m saying.
21 FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO INTO CASTOR FARMING.
– Castor plant have many varieties
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– Castor plant varieties varies in oil contents
– Castor can do well on nominal lands not usually suitable again for other crops.
– Castor cannot do well on water waterlogged lands.
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– There are insects, pests, and viruses worrying castor plants but there are effective chemicals and organic pesticide suitable for protection, it cost more to be at the fighting side.
– Castor oil price is over 300% higher than crude oil.
– Nigeria has one of the best lands for castor plant in the whole world spread everywhere.
– Growing a castor farm less than two and half acres may not produce quantity of seeds needed to attract competitive buyers.
– Consumption of unprocessed castor plants is dangerous to animals and humans.
– It is possible to have good harvest up to 2 tons per hectare at first year if farm is properly maintained.
– A ton of castor sells between N350k to N550k depending price of naira to dollar exchange and the variety of castor in the market at the point of sale.
– Very tiny variety seeds are normally very rich in oil content but very difficult to shell.
– Farmers may not be able to grow enough seeds for Nigeria factories and industrial consumption for the next 10 years because the benefits of castor oil is increasing everyday and scientists and engineers are using it for more newer products daily , currently there are over 150 products using castor .
– In the next 3 years Nigerian industries and castor buyers may start to test oil contents of castor and pay farmer according to the richness of oil.
– Year by year Researchers are still coming up with new varieties that are richer in oil.
– Nigeria may top the list of castor producers in Africa in the next 8 years.
– Farmers having up to 10 acres of castor farm needs Sheller machine, it is tedious to shell castor manually. Our local engineers could make one if guided.
– Castor can be grown round the year with irrigation systems.
– There are perennial and there are annual castor plants.
– You may sell your harvested seeds to Produce buyers, Commodity buyers or direct to industries.
NB: Castor is poisonous. I repeat again! It is very lethargic in nature. So if you touch Castor, please do not forget to wash your hands properly.
Castor oil has many uses in medicine and other applications. An alcoholic extract of the kileaf was shown, in lab rats, to protect the liver from damage from certain poisons. Methanolic extracts of the leaves of Ricinus communis were used in antimicrobial testing against eight pathogenic bacteria in rats and showed antimicrobial properties. The extract was not toxic. The pericarp of Ricinus showed central nervous system effects in mice at low doses. At high doses mice quickly died. A water extract of the root bark showed analgesic activity in rats. Antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties were found in ethanolic extract of Ricinus communis root bark.
Other Vital Uses
Castor oil is an effective motor lubricant (Biodiesel) and has been used in internal combustion engines, including those of World War l airplanes, some racing cars and some model airplanes. It has historically been popular for lubricating two-stroke engines due to high resistance to heat compared to petroleum-based oils. It does not mix well with petroleum products, particularly at low temperatures, but mixes better with the methanol based fuels used in glow model engines.
In total-loss-lubrication applications, it tends to leave carbon deposits and varnish within the engine. It has been largely replaced by synthetic oils that are more stable and less toxic. Jewelry is often made of castor beans, particularly necklaces and bracelets. Every other shiny/glossy thing glows because of Castor extract.
Habit, Growth & Horticultural Uses
Although Ricinus communis is indigenous to the southeastern Mediterranean Basin, Eastern Africa, and India, today it is widespread throughout tropical regions. In areas with a suitable climate, castor establishes itself easily where it can become an invasive plant and can often be found on wasteland.
It is also used extensively as a decorative plant in parks and other public areas, particularly as a “dot plant” in traditional bedding schemes. If sown early, under glass, and kept at a temperature of around 20 °C (68 °F) until planted out, the castor oil plant can reach a height of 2–3 metres (6.6–9.8 ft) in a year. In areas prone to frost it is usually shorter, and grown as if it were an annual.
However, it can grow well outdoors in cooler climates, at least in southern England, and the leaves do not appear to suffer frost damage in sheltered spots, where it remains evergreen. It was used in Edwardian times in the parks of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Although not cultivated there, the plant grows wild in Southern California, notably Griffith Park in Los Angeles.
In the case of Nigeria, the seed grows almost every part of Nigeria, even in the north where we have less rain falls and desert area. Yobe and Jigawa state spent over 25 billion in the last 5 years planting castor alone to fight deserts , surprisingly our few factories producing castor oil are still less than 5 % production capacity for shortage of castor bean.
Selections have been made by breeders for use as ornamental plants (heights refer to plants grown as annuals) and for commercial production of castor oil. Castor may not do well in water logged area unless the water is well drained. The money in castor is even more in production of its oil. Even with a small machine, a castor oil producer can make millions of naira yearly if he/she does the right thing. So, what are you waiting for? You need to act now!
Remember, our national economy is already in recession because of the plummeted oil price in the world market. Many countries are already diversifying prior the Covid-19 pandemic. So, if you don’t want to be caught unaware, you may have a rethink to try this farming gradually. Because everyone is planting cassava, yam or maize doesn’t mean you should join the band wagon every year, you can make a difference from now!
Alaba Damilare Samuel – Freelance Content Writer, Communications Strategist, Social Media Manager, Documentary Photographer, Administrator.