With the global market for Jamaican castor oil estimated over US$200 million, the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) is inviting farmers to apply for the Grow Castor Bean Project.
A joint project between the Inter-American Development Bank and the Jamaica Baptist Union, the project is designed to create wealth in roughly 337 Baptist church communities. The overall objective of the Grow Castor Bean Project is to provide a consistent supply of castor oil for markets locally and internationally.
Applications for the project opened on July 18, 2022, and will close on July 27, 2022.
For its part, the JBDC will train the farmers, providing them with the requisite knowledge, business skills and techniques necessary to operate and maintain sustainable businesses. Workshops are scheduled for August 10, 11 and 17 in Mandeville, Manchester.
"We are targeting 80 farmers located in St Catherine, Clarendon, St Elizabeth, St Ann, and Manchester. These farmers will need to provide evidence of their occupation through a RADA registration card or any other suitable means," Project management & research manager at the JBDC Amanda McKenzie noted.
She added that the aim of the workshops are geared toward being interactive, experiential, and practical; utilising case studies and numerous activity-based methodologies.
The Grow Castor Bean Project directly supports micro, small and medium-sized enterprises involved in agriculture and agro-processing to supply wide spanning markets and develop innovations that will help them to boost productivity, competitiveness, and growth.
In this regard, McKenzie explained that there is an immediate opportunity to increase the production of castor on a more formalised and commercial scale to realise further growth and value.
"It has been observed that castor bean farmers largely operate informal businesses, thus not benefiting from the same opportunities as more formalised operations. Business skills training is therefore essential to improve farmers' management of, and increased access to facilities such as access to financing," she pointed out further.
Castor oil is used primarily in the pharmaceutical industry as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory; in cosmetic applications; and in the manufacturing of high-grade lubricants and biodiesel fuel. On the US market, real Jamaican castor oil has the potential to earn between US$80 million and US$100 million.