Production of certified castor seed doubled last year under the Pragati sustainable castor project founded by German chemical and biotech giant BASF, speciality chemicals company Arkema, oleochemical firm Jayant Agro-Organics and implementation partner Solidaridad.

The results of the project’s fifth year published on 13 January by BASF showed that more than 5,800 farmers had been trained, audited and certified – a 27% increase compared to the previous year.

A total of 36,000 tonnes of certified castor seed had been cultivated in 2021 – a 50% increase compared to the previous year, the BASF report said.

Yield had also improved more that 35% compared to the previous year with over 13,300ha now being farmed in accordance with the SuCCESS sustainable castor code.

‘With our joint efforts in this programme, we support the sustainable production of castor beans to establish sustainable supply chains that, amongst others, increase the yields and income of farmers,’ said Karin Wagner, who is responsible for castor oil and derivatives procurement at BASF.

Pragati is the Hindi word for progress and the project was launched in May 2016 driven by a baseline survey of more than 1,000 castor farmers in Gujarat, India.

The project’s goal is to enable sustainable castor crop production by the use of good agricultural practices to increase yield and farmer income, the efficient use of water resources and maintenance of soil fertility, the adoption of good waste management practices and better health and safety practices and respect for human rights.