Mr Lawal Ali, the National President, Castor Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria, says cultivation and processing of castor is a money-spinner for Nigeria but many people are yet to explore its potential.
Ali disclosed this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday.
He expressed regrets that people had not explored the potential of castor farming in spite of the country’s conducive climate for high volume of castor production.
According to him, castor seeds grow in over 24 states, which is the additional advantage for Nigeria to make castor oil a major source of income instead of crude oil.
“Nigerians spend over N100billion to import castor oil annually. So what we are doing as association is trying to save our foreign exchange.
“Castor oil is a viable business and it is something that people are demanding always,’’ he said.
He said that the country has about three processors companies in Abuja, Ilorin and Lagos capable of processing seeds into oil and oil into some other derivatives.
“Though it is only the Abuja Company that can produce to meet the international standard but by the end of this year, the other two companies will be equipped to meet global standard.
“With this, I believe it will cut off our importation. One interesting thing is that castor oil market in Nigeria is better than in the international market.
“The market potential is here but we need more awareness and also policy from the government,’’ Ali said.
Ali said that castor seed obtained from the castor plant was one of the few medicinal, powerful laxatives.
“Perhaps one of the best-known medicinal uses for castor oil is that it is a natural laxative.
“It also promotes wound healing, birth control, child delivery; it stands as an impressive anti-inflammatory effect and reduces acne as well as fights fungus.
“The oil is packed with the goodness of Omega-6 essential fatty acids that are extremely good for promoting luxuriant hair growth.
“The warm castor oil, when applied on the scalp stimulates blood circulation and opens the pores of the hair follicles thereby nourishing the hair from its roots.
“It is widely used in hair care products, keeps your hair and scalp healthy and skin creamy and it is a natural moisturizer,’’ he said.
Ali said that the oil extracted from the castor bean already has a growing international market, adding that with more than 700 uses, ranging from medicines and cosmetics to substituting petroleum in the manufacturing of biodiesel, plastics and lubricant, “the oil is highly beneficial to all’’.
“Castor oil is an important feedstock for the chemical industry because it is the only commercial source of ricin oleic acid, a hydroxyl fatty acid.
“Nigeria being a fertile and blessed country with a massive commercial international influence, should tap in this innovation and see how to take its own share of the agricultural markets will grow.
“The Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) and Ministry of Trade and Investment have been helping in terms of awareness and in an attempt to add value to castor seed development in Nigeria.
The president said that Castor oil marketing, although a profitable business was still faced with several challenges in marketing activities.
“Our major challenge is advocacy. There is not enough awareness campaign for farmers to know the value of castor seed farming.
“Another challenge is in the area of training and again the financial capability of the farmers because the association has never benefitted from any anchor borrower programmes in the country.
“If we have strong awareness, good policy and government at all levels address all our other challenges, the country can depend on only castor oil as major income to drive the nation instead of crude oil,” he said. (NAN)