BY LORRAINE MUROMO
Oil Castor Zimbabwe has pledged to end the country’s fuel crisis urging farmers to invest more in castor bean farming which will aid bio-diesel production.
According to the company website, Oil Castor supplies castor seeds of high grade which it converts to castor oil for bio-diesel production.
Addressing journalists in the capital on Tuesday, Oil Castor founder, Portia Maposa said the farmers should come forward and help the country eradicate fuel problems through castor bean production.
“Currently, we have the problem that our available farmers only have at least a hectare or two that they are using for castor bean farming and this will not solve the fuel situation, but rather just compliment. We just need 1 000 hectares to completely eliminate the fuel crisis,” Maposa said.
“We have the capacity to consistently do this, all we need is more hectares and more farmers coming forward, materials required to complete bio-diesel production are locally-accessible.”
Castor bean is one of the several biomasses used to make bio-diesel, a renewable fuel.
According to the United States Energy Information Administration, a principal agency of the US Federal Statistical System responsible for collecting, analysing and disseminating energy, biodiesel can be used as a direct substitute for diesel fuel.
“Biodiesel fuel can also be blended with petroleum diesel in any percentage without reducing vehicle fuel economy,” part of an article from the United States Energy Information Administration reads.
In Zimbabwe, diesel demand is currently averaging around three million litres per day while for petrol it is about two million.
Currently, there are 150 farmers in Zimbabwe and 200 across Africa producing castor bean for castor oil.
Maposa said the country only needed 2 000 hectares to plant castor been seed and this roughly would produce an estimated 884 tonnes of castor beans in the next seven years.
She added that this hectarage would allow them to produce at least half of the country’s daily bio-diesel needs.
Maposa added that since inception of the castor bean project, they had managed to produce about 2 000 litres of castor oil.
“From the time of germination, it only takes four months to reap the castor beans and this culminates into 21 times harvest in four years,” Maposa adds.
She said in four months they would expect a harvest of about 600 kilogrammes of castor beans, but with consistent and appropriate rainfall the bar would be a bit higher with them expecting an estimated 1 200 tonnes.