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Castor (Ricinus communis L.) is cultivated around the world because of the commercial importance of its oil. India is the world’s largest producer of castor seed and meets most of the global demand for castor 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 30 different countries on commercial scale, of which India, China, Brazil, USSR, Thailand Ethiopia and Philippines are major castor growing areas. Historically, Brazil, China and India have been the key producing countries meeting global requirements. However, in early 90’s, Brazilian farmers moved away to more lucrative cash crops, and surge in domestic demand in China made them net importers, leaving India to meet the global demand.
In India, Castor planting season is during July or August and harvesting is done around December or January. The seedpods are dried, de-podded and brought to the market yards during December or January for trading. Sowing of castor with onset of monsoon is found most beneficial in rained condition. However, sowing can be done up to first fortnight of August without reduction in yield under irrigated condition. The Indian variety of castor has 48% oil content of which 42% can be extracted, while the cake retains the rest.

Castor grows under tropical conditions. It loves heat and humidity and does best in regions where both are ample. India, gifted with an ideal climatic condition, has recorded a produce of close to 850,000 tones of castor seed. Gujarat produces 86% of the total castor seeds in India followed by Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. Mehsana and Banaskantha are the largest castor producing districts in Gujarat. In Gujarat, castor cultivation comprises 6 districts of North Gujarat, viz., Mehsana, Banaskantha, Sabarkantha, Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad and Kutch.