The government has granted bean processing company, Oil Castor, a certifying agency status for castor beans, a development projected to guarantee high-quality seed for the production of the crop.
In a notice published in the Government Gazette recently, under the headline: “Designation of Certifying Agencies,” the government communicated the development.
“It is hereby notified, in terms of Section 4(3) of the Seeds Certification Scheme) Notice, 2000, published in Statutory Instrument 213 of 2000, the Certifying Authority has hereby designated the following Certifying Agencies in respect of the following seed crops in the schedule,” reads the notice in part.
The notice goes further to state that Speedy Steam Clean, trading as Oil Castor Zimbabwe (Private) has been approved to certify castor beans.
The latest development for the firm, which supports rural farmers across Africa with engineered castor bean seed augurs well with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) whose operationalisation came into effect from the New Year.
In the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Oil Castor has contracts with farmers in Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
After supplying farmers with engineered castor bean seed, the firm buys back the crop which it uses to manufacture a wide range of cosmetic products such as oil and soap as well as motor oil or hydraulic oil, and bio-diesel.
At present, the company buys back the castor bean at US$600 a tonne.
Last year, the company spent nearly US$300 000 buying castor beans under its engineered seed programme while a year earlier, US$230 000 was paid out to growers in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique.
Meanwhile, Oil Castor is drafting a universal standard to farming castor beans and should be ready by month-end.