India's castor seed sowing is likely to increase this financial year as delayed monsoon and insufficient rainfall may encourage farmers to shift to castor seed from other crops.
Good price on back of lower production in the previous fiscal may also force farmers to shift to castor seed sowing, according to industry experts.
Sowing of castor seed has started in Gujarat and other parts of India. The figure is nominal so far but is likely to pick up from mid-August.
"Late monsoon and insufficient rainfall has forced farmers to shift to castor sowing which may increase area of castor seed sowing this year. Moreover, good price has also encouraged farmers to take up castor sowing," said B V Mehta, executive director, Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEA).
Though, Mehta did not predict how much sowing area will increase as it is too early to forecast, the picture may be clear after the end of this month. A Gujarat-based exporter on condition of anonymity said, "Groundnut farmers are mainly shifting to castor seed sowing as they fear crop failure owing to insufficient rainfall and delayed onset of monsoon. This may increase castor sowing area by 10-15 percent this year."
A report by agriculture ministry states castor seed has been sowed on 96,000 hectares area as on July 24 this year across the country. However, last year at the same time, sowing was done on 149,000 hectares in India.
According to data provided by Gujarat agriculture department, as on July 28, sowing of castor seed has been done on 83,700 hectares as against 172,600 hectares in corresponding period of kharif 2013.
At present, price of castor seed in Gujarat is ruling between Rs 805-835 per 20 kg. The highest price in July was Rs 860 per 20 kg. Last year, the price was ruling between Rs 650 to 750 per 20 kg at the same time.
According to SEA data, export of castor oil had decreased in the first quarter of the current financial year. India had exported 131,661 tonnes castor oil during April to June in 2014, down by 6,529 tonnes from 138,190 tonnes in 2013 at the same time.