Castor oil producers urged to submit samples to BSJ


THE Jamaica Castor Industry Association (JCIA) is calling on castor oil producers to submit samples of their products to the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) for testing in order to fast-track improvements in the industry.

The call was made by interim President Joel Harris at a castor oil processors' workshop held at Jampro's (Jamaica Promotions Corporation) auditorium in New Kingston, recently.


The workshop, which is the second of its kind in recent months, was aimed at sensitising participants about the process of making castor oil, certification and technological advances, among other industry areas.


Harris explained that the association hopes to highlight the importance of the castor industry.


“What we have before us is a growing opportunity to get it right... There are so many persons wanting to know more about castor oil… wanting to know how authentic it is, standard of production, quality, consistency, and supply; this workshop is aimed to help people do that,” Harris told participants.


He appealed to castor oil processors to submit eight ounce samples of their oils to the BSJ so that tests can be done to help cement a standardisation process, for what can be considered as Jamaican Black Castor Oil, as well as identify other important information which can help processors in their production.


While speaking with the Jamaica Observer, Harris explained that the best way to protect castor oil, which he said is a national and historic component of Jamaica, is to first know, identify and regulate Jamaican Black Castor Oil production.

He said that this was achievable through the staging of the workshop as it facilitated a coming together of all the producers, with different people knowledgeable about producing artisanal castor oil as well as commercial grade castor oil and the different regulations and standards associated with each.


Harris added that people who are completely new to the industry or even slightly informed, would have therefore had the opportunity to get a better understanding of what it takes to make Jamaican Black Castor Oil by being exposed to the process, such as traceability studies, cleaning and how to reuse castor waste for fuel.


“We see castor oil as a blessing and, as Jamaicans, want to secure and grow that industry, but we had to make everybody meet in one place. So we had the first workshop last month (June) for the growers, so if you were a farmer or harvester, you would have had to come to that workshop,” Harris said.


Harris explained that this first workshop laid the foundation for the second one, which dealt with how the castor beans can be processed to get oil, hence the involvement of mainly oil processors.


The interim president said that a third workshop is expected to follow in October, which will be about the marketing and business aspects of the castor oil industry, and will explore areas such as financing and common mistakes made by producers when venturing into the international market.


He added that the third workshop will be open to both farmers and oil producers so they can benefit from step-by-step processes needed to operate a functional castor business.


“We are here to take persons who are at a micro level and grow them hand by hand, into larger scale operations, so that others can be employed through this industry,” Harris said. “The reception has been phenomenal, we have been oversubscribed twice and this success…will lead to even more success in the future.”


Harris added that plans for the JCIA, which was formally registered in January of this year and currently operates from Jampro's offices on Trafalgar Road in Kingston, include the staging of more workshops and an islandwide capacity survey to determine how many castor beans as well as oil the island is capable of producing.

Jamaica Observer
Published Date: 
Thursday, August 3, 2017