By Rufaro Gaidzanwa
A local oil processing company, Castor Oil Zimbabwe is taking strides to augment castor bean production through contracting local farmers as it seeks to promote bio-diesel use and cut on the country’s huge fuel import bill.
Castor oil can also be used in the manufacture of cosmetics and hydraulic oil for motor vehicles.
In an interview, Castor Oil founder Portia Maposa said the crop suits all farming regions in the country and has the potential to alleviate fuel shortages.
“The most precious thing about castor seed is that it can grow almost everywhere so farmers from areas with both low and high rainfall are able to grow it. Surely, this will help our country in a long way in alleviating fuel shortages as well as bringing in foreign currency for our country.” said Maposa
Castor Oil Zimbabwe avails doctored seeds to the farmers, and buys back the crop after harvest while it also assists the farmers with education on good farming practices to obtain and maintain good yields.
Zimbabwe imports all its liquid fuel as it does not have any indigenous sources of oil.
The company is encouraging small holder farmers to take up the crop as it guarantees returns given that the crop had the ability to survive droughts.
This, has given zeal to farmers tired of poor yields from constant droughts over the recent years.
Todd Matasa, a castor bean farmer expressed satisfaction and gratitude to the castor bean initiative and encouraged farmers to join.
“I have sold my harvest today and received payment in forex, this will help me start irrigation”, Matasa said
Castor oil plant also known as castor bean is a commercially grown plant used for pharmaceutical and industrial purposes. The bean plant is used in the production of body lotions and deodorants. It is also used in the food and beverages industry and as well as the fuel industry.