Zimbabwe: company pays castor bean farmers US $ 550,000


Bio – TECHNOLOGY company Oil Castor said it spent US $ 550,000 of the US $ 1.2 million it set aside to pay local castor producers for their deliveries.

The company runs a program where rural castor farmers buy modified seeds and when their crop is harvested, Oil Castor repurchases the product.

In an interview, Oil Castor co-founder Mr. Alvaro Arellano said Zimbabwe produces medium quality castor beans and the best quality comes from Karoi in Mashonaland West province.

“We are at around US $ 550,000 and we envision US $ 650,000 by the end of May in payments to farmers,” he said.

“We hope to spend between US $ 1 million and US $ 1.2 million to pay farmers this year.

“The best quality comes from Karoi. Very hot and humid regions are doing well. However, other regions such as Marondera and Gweru produce grains of acceptable quality.

Last year, Oil Castor paid castor producers about US $ 500,000 against a target of US $ 700,000.

The target was missed due to the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Alvaro Arellano said his Harare-based organization had not been spared the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This (Covid-19) has had an emotional impact on the farmers.

“Many farmers who lost a loved one simply gave up farming or no longer had the will to do so.

“For us, we had a worker who had the Covid, so we closed for a month, and now we only work through distributors.

“We are slowly eliminating direct public relations,” he said.

In recent years, the company has encouraged local farmers to engage in castor oil production as part of its modified seed initiative.

The company uses castor oil to produce motor or hydraulic oil, biodiesel and a wide range of products such as cosmetic oils and soaps, which it exports around the world.

The crop has also been identified as a ready alternative to jatropha in the production of biodiesel.

It is hoped that if more farmers venture into castor oil production, it would be an efficient solution to Zimbabwe’s energy situation.

Research has proven that castor oil biodiesel has a very low cloud point and pour point, making it the best alternative in winter conditions.

In addition, castor oil biodiesel would lower the cloud point value although it may increase the viscosity of biodiesel blends.

The viscosity, however, makes castor oil biodiesel with its very low cloud and pour points suitable for use in extreme winter temperatures.

Under President Mnangagwa, the Second Republic instituted the National Biofuels Policy to govern the sector by complementing the country’s focus on renewable energy production.


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