Castor (Ricinus communis L.) is cultivated around the world because of the commercial importance of its oil. Castor is an important non-edible oilseed crop and is grown especially in arid and semi-arid region. It is originated in the tropical belt of both India and Africa. It is cultivated in different countries on commercial scale. Castor crop needs a tropical type of climate to develop. Castor seeds contain oil between 40% and 60% that is rich in triglycerides, mainly ricinolein. Indian variety castor has oil content of about 47% and only 42% can be extracted, while the cake retains the rest.
India, China and Brazil are the major castor seed producing countries in the world. Castor seed consumption is higher in EU Countries, USA & Japan, who use it to produce & consume / export its value-added derivatives. India and Brazil are major exporting countries for castor seed in the world.
Despite being the second largest producer, China is the net importer of castor oil as its domestic consumption is far more than its production. China alone consumes about one third of total world production of castor oil. Other major consumers for castor oil are Europe and Brazil.
Castor seed is grown as a kharif crop in India. Castor planting season is during July to August and harvested around December or January.
The castor seed production in India was approximately 15.76 lakh tonnes and its area under cultivation was 11.48 lakh hectares in 2011-12. India is the largest producer and exporter of castor oil in the world. Due to surplus production and low domestic consumption, the country exports almost 80-85% of its production in form of castor oil. Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan are the major castor seed producing states in India.
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