Over 80 000 households countrywide will benefit from the growing of castor beans, a move expected to inject the much needed foreign currency into the economy.
The castor bean growing programme, rolled out by a local firm, Lifebrand Agricultural Services has seen the establishment of centers countrywide where farmers will be able to access the seed.
One such farmer who has joined the project, Mr Evans Mutawarira of Endridge Farm in Odzi said high value crops will be instrumental in changing the livelihoods of farmers all over Zimbabwe, as has been the norm in countries where they are grown.
“We are happy that this programme has been launched. Apart from ensuring that as farmers, we get increased returns, we are also guaranteed of earning the much needed foreign currency when the castor beans are sold.
Lifebrand Agricultural Services Managing Director, Mr Isdory Kembo said the growing of castor bean will be a game changer for the farmers as the crop has a ready global market in which its demand is far outstripping supply.
“As a country we need to promote non-edible agriculture crops for industrial use. This has the potential to stimulate our economy by over $5 billion within a calendar year. Castor oil has many uses with the seed, stem, leaves and roots of the tree also having many uses,” he said.
Currently, the firm is propagating 800 hectares under irrigation to produce seeds which will then be distributed for dry planting in the 2018-2019 season.
The uses of the castor bean plant range from fuel, pharmaceutical industries, personal care, lubrication, food and beverages, among others.