BASF is partner in the world’s first sustainable castor bean program ‘Pragati’
Castor beans play an important role in the chemical industry where castor oil and derivates are used as raw material in the production of, for example, plastics, coatings and paints, and pharmaceuticals. The Gujarat region in India produces over 90% of the world’s supply of castor beans. Here, castor bean farming provides a steady income for many smallholders and family farms.
However, the farming bears risks to the workers’ health and the environment. Risk factors arise due to environmentally exploiting farming practices and low education, sanitary and safety standards. This is why a consistent standard for agricultural practices was required.
In May 2016, BASF; Arkema, a global leader in specialty chemicals and advanced materials; Jayant Agro-Organics Ltd., a pioneer in castor oil based chemicals in India, and the international civil society organization Solidaridad launched the project ‘Pragati’ (Hindi for progress) to improve working conditions, create awareness for sustainable farming and increase yields due to more efficient farming practices. Further, the project aims at establishing a unified sustainability code that sets a standard for certified sustainable castor oil – the first code on the global market.
By teaching agricultural and environmental practices, Project Pragati enables farmers to enhance their productivity and increase their yields. In addition, the project creates awareness to take responsibility towards health, environment, safety and societal issues. As of today, over 2.700 farmers have been formally awarded certificates for their achievements in improving the sustainability of their farming.