Declining Castor and Sunflower production in Bahia

I’ve been trawling through the website of the Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics (IBGE) and came across some data that I think is alarming

From 2007-2009, castor bean production in Bahia declined by 75%!

and Sunflower seed production declined to just 1 metric ton in 2012 (from +3000 metric tons in 2007)


This is alarming for a few reasons

  • castor and sunflower are both meant to be part of the staple feedstock crops for biodiesel in Brazil.
  • castor and sunflower are both meant to be grown by family farmers and the Social fuel stamp given to companies who purchase from family farmers. In fact, 15% of all feedstock must be purchased from family farmers for a company to be eligible to process biodiesel and sell in national auctions (only market).
  • there was a well established castor market – in fact, Bahia used to supply some huge percentage of the worlds total castor oil as it is in high demand in pharmaceutical industry
  • part of the PNPB strategy was to “lock out” the middle men purchasing castor bean in Bahia and try to ensure that all farmers sold through a cooperative (which was contracted to a Biodiesel company). Excluding the middle man was seen as high priority for ensuring ‘fair’ and ‘sustainable’ castor production in Bahia

I’m not sure why there has been such a drastic decline in the production- but the statistics show that area under cultivation has been decreased (i.e. its not just a failed crop issue, people are actually cultivating less).

Anyone in Bahia know more details?






About Sarina Kilham

I'm a Doctoral Researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney. Trained as a social scientist and with a Masters in Sustainable Agriculture, I'm interested in farmer's experiences of growing feedstock for biodiesel production. My research has focused on biodiesel production in Brazil and Timor-Leste. Also on Twitter @sarinakilham and blogging at
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