Farmers and other stakeholders are encouraged to fully exploit opportunities
Jamaica’s black castor oil is proving to be a liquid gold, which is untapped, as it is not being fully exploited.
As such, farmers and other stakeholders in the island are being encouraged to collaborate to explore the full potential of the local castor bean. To this extent, a study is currently being done on the Jamaica black castor bean at the University of the West Indies Mona, under the leadership of Director of the Mona Institute of Applied Science, Dr Howard Reid.
This is being undertaken through a grant facilitated by the Jamaica Baptist Union (JBU) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Upon conclusion, the findings will guide the process of securing the intellectual property rights of the Jamaica Black Castor Oil for the country.
Fake Jamaican Black Castor Oil being marketed
For many years, several companies globally have been producing their own oil but falsely labelling it ‘Jamaican’.
Courtney Haughton, president of the Jamaica Castor Industry Association (JCIA), admitted that most of the products being marketed as Jamaican Black Castor Oil are fake.
According to him, “the only way we can claw back what is ours is if we secure our intellectual property rights. The process includes [the] research now underway at the Mona Institute of Applied Science.” Other engagements include standardization of the product with assistance from the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) and producers’ compliance in meeting product standard acceptance in the global market.
Registration at the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office will be the next step and initial dialogue has begun. For Haughton, the next objective is to protect market integrity, because Jamaica will need strategic alliances with people who have the capacity to seek out those in violation of our rights and protect us through legal action.
JCIA has forged partnerships with the National Council on Technical Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET) and the JBU to develop a curriculum for training and certification of industry participants. Already, there is a Level One Module for planting, reaping and storage of castor beans, which has been ratified by the NCTVET Board.
Exploiting the opportunities
The Jamaican authorities are encouraging farmers and other stakeholders to get involved in the production of Jamaican black castor oil, which has vast economic potential and benefits to the island. One of those pushing for greater involvement is Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport and Mining. JC Hutchinson, who highlighted the high demand for Jamaican Black Castor Oil, noting that the global market for the product is valued at up to US$100 million.
“This is a truly Jamaican product that must carry brand Jamaica in every way; and I suggest that a committee be established, comprising the Jamaica Bauxite Institute, Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Scientific Research Council, processors, farmers, JAMALCO, JBU and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, under the chairmanship of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority,” Hutchinson said.
He was speaking at the JBI’s Castor Industry Forum, dubbed: ‘Black Castor Oil – Liquid Gold Untapped’, at the Golf View Hotel in Mandeville, Manchester, on March 15. He argued that to realise the potential of the local castor bean, Jamaica needs to have a structured programme which ensures that processors have consistency of supply.
Currently, the product, which has gained popularity worldwide, is not a major farm crop in the island. For him, “this is too much of an important [product] for it to be faltering by the wayside. I feel strongly about it; so, let us, together, make it work.”