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castor oil

  1. Product Description: Castor oil is processed or extracted from castor seeds. The oil has application in hydraulic fluids, paints, varnishes, surfactant and in the production of synthetic fibre and diabasic acids. In the context of the Ethiopian domestic market, castor oil can be used in the production of soap. But production of the oil for the export market might be more attractive financially.


  1. Potential Market: A study made some years ago estimated that the country produces between 10,000 and 15,000 tons of castor seeds per year. However, production of castor seeds in not considered as a normal farming activity by many farmers. Castor seeds naturally grow around homesteads and in marginal lands with no much attention given by farmers. If proper care could be given by farmers for the production of these seeds, the harvest could have been much larger than the figures indicated above. Considering the market potential for castor oil, there were preliminary attempts to establish castor oil producing plants as early as the 1960s. But so far no plant has been established. The price of castor oil in the international markets varies from USD 750/ton to USD 900/tons and the average factory gate price could be USD 675/ton which is equivalent to about Birr 6000/ton. This indicates that castor oil production can be a good foreign exchange earner. India and Brazil dominate the international market for castor oil. One study has indicated that the market in Europe for the oil ranges from 35,000 to 50,000 tons. Thus the objective of a castor oil producing plant should be to export its product.
  1. Source of Raw material: Localities in the Amhara region which are suitable for producing castor seeds.


  1. Process and Technology: As the first step castor seeds are cleaned in shaking screens of various sizes and then are fed to multiple stage steam heated cookers in order to be conditioned. Then the seeds are taken to the expeller (press) as needed. The expeller breaks up the seed and subjects them to pressure, thus extracting oil which is expelled from the machine and can be stored in drums.


The expelled oil should be left to settle for about two days, so the sediments will settle to the bottom and the oil can be decanted. The oil is finally pumped to the filter for further clarification. The oil discharged from the filter is taken to storage or packing facilities. Main machinery needed include cooker, expeller, filter press, seed cleaner, and other accessories.


  1. Estimated Investment: For a plant which will produce about 2500 tons of castor oil per year, the estimated investment will be:-
    • Buildings 250m2 at Birr 2000/m2………..= Birr    500,000
    • Machinery ……………………………….= Birr   7,700,000
    • Working capital …………………………= Birr    300,000

Total …………… = Birr   8,500,000


  1. Benefits: Learns foreign exchange, brings cash income to castor seeds producers, stimulates castor seeds production, and facilitates the production of other industrial products (such as paints….) for which castor oil is an input.


  1. Location: Any zonal capital where there are many castor seeds producing localities.