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. 80% of the world’s supply of castor seed is produced annually in India representing approximately 1.2 million tons. Here, castor bean farming provides a steady income for many smallholders and family farms.
Partnering for a more sustainable castor bean farming standard
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 has established the unified sustainability code SuCCESS (Sustainable Castor Caring for Environmental and Social Standards) that sets a standard for certified sustainable castor oil – the first code on the global market.
Project goal of enabling sustainable castor crop production by:
- Using good agricultural practices to increase yield and farmer income
- Efficiently using water resources and maintaining soil fertility
- Driving adoption of good waste management practices
- Enabling better health and safety practices and respecting human rights
Enabling farmers to enhance sustainability and productivity
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 4,500 farmers have been formally awarded certificates for their achievements in improving the sustainability of their farming.
Key Outcomes (as of January 2021)
- SuCCESS (Sustainable Castor Caring for Environmental & Social Standards) code established
- More than 1,400 farmers in year 4 and over 4,500 farmers trained, audited, and certified
- More than 8,700 hectares of castor farming in accordance with the SuCCESS sustainable castor crop framework, 3,600 hectares of which were newly farmed in the previous year
- This represents associated production to date of more than 24,000 metric tons of certified sustainable castor seeds and 10,000 metric tons only for year 4
- Yield improvement of more than 50 percent as compared with the yield published by the local government in the region for 2019-2020
- Water consumption lowered by approximately 19 percent in the demo plots where water utilization is monitored
- Over 5,000 personal safety kits and crop protection product storage drums distributed to farmers
- Farmers from more than 69 villages in North Gujarat now participate in the program
- More than 12,000 hours of classroom teaching have been concluded