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By Maryam Aminu, Abuja

The Director-General, Global Centre for Human Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Development, GLOCHEED, Mrs. Rose Gyar has empowered women in the 6 Area Councils of FCT with the knowledge of Castor farming and distributed 10kg of castor seeds to each participant as a strategy to boost production and engender sustainable supply of raw materials to promote business in the castor value chain.

She informed the women that economic empowerment does not always entail monetary support as loans or grant for businesses but any information or activity that would add value to the livelihood of the individual through education, training, skill acquisition, capacity enhancement, wealth creation, income generation, etc. She, therefore, enjoined the women to be attentive to the knowledge and experience sharing that would take place in order to make their outing worth the while so that it can help them in adding value to their families and communities at large.

Earlier in her welcome address, Mrs. Elizabeth Onyeri, the FCT Coordinator of Association of Women in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (AWIMSME), the platform that was leveraged on to invite the participants appreciated their positive response to the call and said it was a sign of progress and prosperity because she was confident that whatever they were going to be thought in the engagement was a step towards changing their lives and those of their families positively. She, therefore, urged the women to be attentive, ask questions, and also share their knowledge and experiences for the benefit of others within the context of the engagement.

The National President of Castor Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Ali Lawal was on hand to provide technical support to engender high yield to maximise profit.

He informed participants that Castor as a cash crop is capable of elevating their level of livelihood above poverty.
He added that Castor is used as a critical raw material in the cosmetics industry and for animal feed, as well as in the pharmaceutical industry. But cautioned that Castor has a high level of ricin therefore women must keep the seeds away from children.

He enjoined the women to embrace the farming of the commodity as it has huge market potential with maximum returns on investment. He also said that the association would be willing to facilitate linkage to such markets in order to ensure that the minimum guaranteed price policy of the association is enforced for the benefit of the farmers. He, however, cautioned participants that Castor as a commodity requires care and attention for maximum yield therefore, participants must ensure that they are committed to farming castor as a business that would yield income to support their families.

The Director-General, Mrs. Rose Gyar in her earlier remark informed participants that Castor is one of the topmost needed commodities worldwide, going by the benefits embedded in it hence the need for the capacity building for women in the FCT to sensitize and educate them about the existence of a low hanging fruit to bridge the gap of the high cost of grains which may not guarantee maximum profit after harvest with an early maturing cash crop that can augment the loss likely to accrue from grains meant for food.

The event was organised and funded by Global Centre for Human Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Development, GLOCHEED to establish the farmers’ cluster within the GLOCHEED Network of Entrepreneurs.

The event took place at the Zoological Garden, Area 1, Abuja-FCT, yesterday, Tuesday, 15th June 2021 wherein is the office of the AWIMSME. Further inquiries could be made in the office located at Shop 5.

Further research into the nature and uses of Castor seeds revealed that
“Castor is a plant that produces seeds (beans). Castor oil is produced by pressing ripe seeds that have had their outer covering (hull) removed. The hull contains a deadly poison called ricin. Castor oil has been used as medicine for centuries. Castor seeds without the hull are used for birth control, constipation, leprosy, and syphilis. Castor oil is used as a laxative for constipation, to start labor in pregnancy, and to start the flow of breast milk.

“Some people apply castor seed paste to the skin as a poultice for inflammatory skin disorders, boils, carbuncles, pockets of infection (abscesses), inflammation of the middle ear, and migraine headaches. Castor oil is used topically to soften skin, bunions, and corns; and to dissolve cysts, growths, and warts. It is also applied to the skin for osteoarthritis. Some women put castor oil inside the vagina for birth control or to cause an abortion. Castor oil is used in the eyes to soothe membranes irritated by dust or other materials”, However, it is advisable that the use of Castor in any form requires a special recommendation from relevant authorities due to its high content of ricin which could be toxic.

In his lecture, however, the National President of the Castor association Alh. Ali Lawal while laying emphasis on Castor Cultivation, he explained that the Castor seeds have been widely accepted as a promising oil/biofuel crop for all subtropical and tropical locations.
“It is an uncomplicated crop that requires little but careful attention during its growing periods under rainfed cultivation. To achieve higher-yield crop requires intensive crop management, proper irrigation, high inputs, and favorable climatic conditions.

“The oil extracted from the castor bean (ricinus communis) already has a growing international market, assured by more than 700 uses, ranging from medicines and cosmetics to substituting petroleum in the manufacturing of Biodiesel, plastics, and lubricants.

“For arid and semi-arid regions, growing AGF Hybrid Castor provides viable solutions for turning marginal lands into viable economic lands.

“Recommended Spacing Under Irrigated Cultivation: Row to Row: 120 cm to 150 cm, Plant to Plant: 45 cm to 60 cm
Recommended Spacing Under rainfed Cultivation: Row to Row: 90 cm to 120 cm, Plant to Plant: 30 cm to 45 cm, Seed Requirement for Planting: Under Irrigated Cultivation: 4 to 6 Kilograms per hectare
Under rainfed Cultivation: 7 to 10 Kilograms per hectare Total Crop Period (from sowing to final harvest): 6 to 7 Months
Seed Yielding Potential 7000 Kilograms per hectare”, he said.

However, Alh. Ali cautioned the farmers to start the castor farming and learn its management substantially before going into commercial farming giving reasons that uncertainties might not be managed efficiently when there is no experience gotten.
“It could lead to loss of resources”, he added.

The Director-General, Global Centre for Human Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Development, GLOCHEED, Mrs. Rose Gyar while applauding Alh. Ali Lawal for the knowledge shared re echoed the assurance of already available market to the beneficiaries where their produce would be sold at a uniform and standard price.

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