Castor seed production estimates up by 34% in 2017-18: Survey

An estimated record yield jump of 37 per cent is set to push castor seed production in the country by around 34 per cent to close at 1.43 million tonnes for 2017-18, says a survey commissioned by Solvent Extractors' Association (SEA).

The Indian Agribusiness Systems Ltd, known as Agriwatch, conducted the field crop survey for SEA in castor growing regions such as Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, of which Gujarat holds the highest share. The survey results also exceeded the first advanced estimate of castor crop by the Centre of 1.39 million tonnes for 2017-18.

Castor production estimates for the new season has seen a significant increase of 30 per cent on account of record yield across the country. Gujarat accounts for 90 per cent of castor production in India. While the revised production estimates now stand at 1.43 million tonnes, Gujarat accounts for over 1.2 million tonnes of this.

As per the survey, castor seed crop yield grew by record 37 per cent to stand at 1,738 kg per hectares as against last year, thereby pushing up production estimates.

Further, the area under castor too grew by a marginal 2.9 per cent from 799,540 hectares in 2016-17 to 822,790 hectares in 2017-18, based on the state governments' estimates for kharif season.  According to Agriwatch, the increase in area was on account of crop rotation, the expectation of higher price as well as lower cost of cultivation.

Among the states, Gujarat registered a 5.3 per cent rise in sowing area at 595,600 hectares, compared to 564,400 hectares last year. 

As a result, castor seed production in Gujarat stands at an estimated 1.22 million tonnes, up by 42 per cent rise over last year's estimate of 861,000 tonnes. The largest castor seed producing state also saw the yield grow by 34 per cent higher at 2050.23 kg per hectare. 

Unlike Gujarat, however, castor area in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana saw a drop of 8 and 20.5 per cent, respectively. While castor acreage in Rajasthan fell from 142,460 hectares last year to 181,000 hectares this year, that for Andhra Pradesh & Telangana declined to 58,190 hectares, down from 73,180 hectares last year. Agriwatch stated that the drop in castor area for these states was on account of crop shift, falling yield and pest attacks last year.

Meanwhile, commenting on the survey, Atul Chaturvedi, president, SEA stated that based on the government numbers, the association's analysis showed that as on January 2018, there was a carry-in stock of 1.3 million tonnes. 

"Considering the first advanced estimate of the government, we expect the total availability would be around 2.7 million tonnes. And considering the total disappearance of 1.9 million tonnes, during 2018, there will be carry-out of 800,000 tonnes," Chaturvedi added.