Oliver Kazunga, Acting Business Editor
A LEADING bio-technology concern, Oil Castor has been approved as a certifying agency for castor bean, a move expected to ensure high quality seeds for the production of the crop across Africa.
The firm, which supports rural farmers across Africa with engineered castor bean seed, said the latest development augurs well with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) whose operationalisation came into effect on the 1st of January to promote trade and economic integration on the continent.
According to a Government Gazette of December 25, 2020, Oil Castor has been proclaimed as a certifying agency for castor bean in terms of the Seed Act (Chapter 19:13).
Oil Castor founder Mr Alvaro Arellano said:
“The latest development will bring consumer confidence to the farming project while also helping us bring standards across Africa.
“And with the free trade across Africa, it will help us bring a universal standard to farming castor beans.”
Presently, the bio-technology company is drafting a universal standard to farming castor beans and should be ready by month end.
Mr Arellano said now that his organisation is a castor bean certifying agency, farmers are guaranteed high quality seeds.
“It will bring global buying confidence because buyers now know that they will be getting the highest quality castor bean and oil. This will benefit the farmers, the market and hopefully its a spark that starts an organic revolution in Africa,” he said.
After supplying farmers with engineered castor bean seed, the firm buys back the crop which it uses to manufacture a wide range of cosmetic products such as oil and soap as well as motor oil or hydraulic oil, and bio-diesel.
Last year, the firm spent nearly US$300 000 buying castor beans under its engineered seed programme while a year earlier, US$230 000 was paid out to growers in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique.
At present, the company buys back the castor bean at US$600 a tonne.
In the Southern African Development Community, Oil Castor has contracts with farmers in Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. – @okazunga.