The history of castor plant is not very clear. It is said that this plant originated in the tropical belt of India and Africa. The Sanskrit language gave the ancient name of castor i.e. ‘Eranda’. It was also called by various other names in different languages. Herodotus, the father of history, stated that the Egyptians used a type of oil to burn their lamps and for other purposes, which was made by the seeds of Ricinus in the fourth century BC. He named it Kiki and till now castor is cultivated in Greece by the same name.
Theophrastus and Dioscorides, who stated that the oil of the plant is not worth eating but is very good if applied externally as a medicine, gave the detailed description of the plant at around 1st century. They also stated the process of extracting oil from the seeds of the plant. This plant was cultivated till fifteenth century but due to the negative impacts that it has, it slowly started becoming unpopular and by the eighteenth century, its production practically ceased in Europe and the countries started fulfilling their requirements by importing the oil from Jamaica. This is the period in which its name changed to castor. The dark side of this plant oil was observed in the fascist Italy when under the leadership of Mussolini, castor oil was used to give punishments to the people who opposed the established fascist government. They were forced to consume this oil that in turn leads them to death.
Castor is produced in about 30 countries lying in the tropical belt of the world. The production of this crop is concentrated in the hands of a fewer countries and that is why the world production of castor and its derivatives is highly fluctuating. Any change in the trend of the production of any of those countries leads to change in the level of world production. The world production of castor seed hovers around at an average of 12.5 lakh tons and of castor oil is 5.5 lakh tons. The major producer countries of castor are
The top most country in the list is India with around 65% of the share in production followed by China with 23% and Brazil with 7% of share.
Production of castor in India
India being the largest producer of the castor contributes to around 65 % of the world’s total production. India produces around 8 lakh tons of castor seed and around 3 lakh tons of castor oil. The states in the country that are the major producers of castor are
- Andhra Pradesh
- Tamil Nadu
The leading of them all is Gujarat, which contributes to 86% of the total castor seeds produced in the country. The districts in Gujarat namely Mehsana, Banaskantha, Sabarkantha, Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad and Kutch are indulged in the production of Castor and it produces around .36 million tons. Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan follow Gujarat in the production of castor seed with .14 and .10 million tons respectively. The total area on which castor is produced in India is around 6.25 lakh hectare.
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