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OILS AND FATS

SEA shows changing techniques can increase productivity on castor farms
Thursday, 03 May, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, Mumbai
In a major breakthrough in castor farming, the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) has demonstrated that productivity can be increased up to 100 per cent by little change in  techniques and seed quality.

SEA has done an exhaustive study by comparing productivity in across 200 model castor farms  in the last two years, when compared to control farms using traditional methods across six districts of Gujarat, viz Banaskantha, Patan, Sabarkantha, Aarvalli, Junagadh and Kutch. The results of the independent evaluation study were released recently.

As a result of SEA’s intervention through the Model Castor Farm Project, the productivity of castor seeds through model farms, as compared to non-model farms, has showed an increase  of 80 per cent to 100 per cent over other farms.

The number of pickings among the Model Castor Farm Project, the farmers was 40.74 per cent higher than that of the non-model farmers.

The size and number of clusters in the model castor farms were bigger and longer, respectively,  than the clusters in the non-model farms.

The GCH-7 variety seeds of Sardarkrushinagar Dantiwada Agricultural University has given superior results, in terms of better growth of plants, resistance to diseases and higher  productivity.

The organic inputs, better farm practices, such as spacing, watering technique, inter-cropping, wind and sun use under the Model Castor Farm Project, other than certified seeds resulted in overall improvement in yield.

The continuous technical guidance and inputs free of cost provided by SEA under the Model Castor Farm Project, stands out as the most important aspect in this project.

Speaking about the recommendations based on the project, Atul Chaturvedi, president, SEA, said, “There are many takeaways out of this project. It is important that the project need to be upscaled in existing as well as newer districts.”

“This intervention is in the line with PM’s call for doubling farmers’ income and to also sustain  farmers’ interest in castor cultivation. Even though SEA is not flush with funds, we have utilised available resources to show the way forward and are prepared to take up similar  projects in other oil seeds as well,” he added.

“We are also advising farmers on inter-cropping castor with leguminous plants to maintain  better soil health and fertility. This would help in nitrogen-fixation in the soil to lead to higher productivity of castor seed as well as additional income from the inter-crop for the farmer,” Chaturvedi said.

Briefing further about model farms, Haresh Vyas, head, Castor Model Farms Project, SEA, mentioned, “It can be easily replicated at all castor-growing regions in India. This is the second  year of the project.”

“In both the years, model farm productivity has increased and doubled. This year, against  Gujarat’s average productivity of 2,066kg, in most of the model farms, the production realised is between 3,500kg and 6,000kg,” he said.

“This surely will arrest the dwindling interest among castor in India. At SEA, our aim is to help farmers get higher return per hectare through better productivity and not only by way of price,” Vyas said.

He added, “For the current year, SEA plans to establish additional upto 200 model castor  farms across major castor-growing states of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Telangana, and is in discussion with stakeholders and the government for financial support.”

While on the subject, Abhay Udeshi, chairman, SEA Castorseed and Oil Promotion Council, appreciated that currently, India exports about Rs 8,000 crore worth of castor oil and its derivatives.

The demand for castor oil and derivatives is rising year-on-year. Scaling up this programme across castor-growing and other regions would result in valuable exports and increased  income  for  the farmers.

Appropriate support from government agencies is needed to increase productivity/production for India to meet the growing world demand and maintain its position as world leader.
 
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