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Gov't launches production of castor oil beans

Published:Thursday | February 27, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Angelo Laurence, Gleaner Writer

MANDEVILLE, Manchester:

THE MINISTRY of Agriculture and Fisheries has embarked on a drive to have a sustained production of castor oil beans in the island to meet the demand of local and overseas markets.

Castor oil beans are used to manufacture a wide variety of products, including lubricants, plastics, paints, and hair and skin care ointments.

The early Egyptians used it to protect their bodies from the dry desert windstorms, while in Jamaica, it is best known as a laxative to keep the bowels clean and as a hair treatment.

This will be the first time that the Government will be moving to have the castor plant, that grows wildly in many parishes, commercially grown as part of the productive sector.

Interested farmers

During a launch of the effort at the office of the Rural Agricultural Development Agency (RADA) in Mandeville last Thursday, more than 100 small farmers turned up to participate in the programme.

Minister of Agriculture Roger Clarke, who addressed the group, told them that the production of castor oil beans presents a new opportunity to increase their earnings. Member of Parliament for south Manchester, Michael Peart, said castor oil requires low maintenance and "has the potential to alleviate the economic stress" most small farmers are experiencing.

He said he will be making a concerted effort to get farmers in the southern part of the parish to become major farmers of the bean, which seems to do very well in that part of the parish.

Parish manager for RADA, Samuel Harris, told The Gleaner that the beans sell for in excess of $250 per pound with one acre of land yielding an average of 1,000 pounds.