Universiteit Gent Faculteit Landbouwkundige en Toegepaste Biologische Wetenschappen Vakgroep plantaardige productie




НазваниеUniversiteit Gent Faculteit Landbouwkundige en Toegepaste Biologische Wetenschappen Vakgroep plantaardige productie
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Oil Crops



In the late eighties, after liberalisation of the economy, various privately owned oil mills have been opened in Tanzania. A lot of them are crushing sunflower and safflower and there is competition between oil mills for locally irregularly supplied raw material. An example is a small factory in Monduli (near Arusha), that was started up with support of ACT but where the support has now faded out; it cannot find enough safflower or sunflower seeds from the neighbouring farmers to operate profitably and has to buy it from somewhere else. Other problems that decrease the competitive advantage of Tanzanian vegetable oil industry are (1) the addition of 20% VAT on oil, which is a basic food requirement and should be exempted; (2) high electricity charges for industry as Tanzania is the only country in the world where one pays more for electricity when using more units; (3) large quantities of imported refined oils from Kenya and other countries which depress the price of locally produced oils; (4) a local consumer market that cares little and is not willing to pay for quality oil; (5) diversion of oils imported for soap making to the vegetable oils/margarine production lines by some big companies; and (6) poor quality of locally produced oils, (7) donated Soya or canola oil to refugees which is sold and enters the local market at an extremely low price.


As the market for locally produced oil is not very good at the moment due to large amounts of imported oil, there should come more insight in what the local production capacity is and whether the country needs all this imported oil. There should also come a marketing study to find out where the various types of oil (also the little known like neem and baobab) can be produced and sold. Markets for the industrial oils are as yet not or little known which might lead to the dependency on one buyer who has found the market (like for example Optima of Africa in Tanzania for Moringa).


There is need for more research on oil extraction methods from the various types of seeds. At the moment, the only types of seeds from which acceptable amounts of oil are extracted with a simple expeller are sunflower and safflower. Especially for Moringa and Jathropha this should be very useful because the raw material is readily available and currently not being used (see Box 4.1. for the example of Moringa).

Box 4.6. Importance of local oil processing for Moringa

Optima of Africa promoted Moringa cropping in a lot of areas in Tanzania and promised to buy all the seeds. Optima is currently the only company buying Moringa seeds in Tanzania. Moringa is a new crop for the farmers and could be intercropped with food crops, but is not promoted by Optima as such. GTZ in Handeni introduced the crop to its farmers to reach them a fairly sustainable (environment-friendly) cash crop. Problems started when Optima did not come to collect the seeds as promised because there was not enough volume to make transport to Dar Es Salaam profitable. They let the farmers know that they could bring the seeds to Dar Es Salaam by themselves and that Optima would pay their fare. This, however, is difficult for farmers as they have no cash available to pay the fare upfront. The farmers are now left with their Moringa trees, without a market for the seeds. As it is a new crop for them, farmers do not know alternative usage of the tree, although there are some possibilities: seeds can be used for water purification, leaves can be eaten as spinach or used as (excellent) fodder, and edible oil with characteristics comparable to olive oil can be extracted from the seeds. But again, more research is needed to learn how this tree can be intercropped with food crops and how oil can be extracted locally at village level so people do not have to buy expensive imported oil anymore.

(Source: personal communication from Heile Heinz-Josef, Project coordinator Handeni Integrated Agroforestry Project, Tanzania 2001)


The manufacture of soap is usually done with bought tallow and coconut or palm oil although locally extracted oils might be an alternative. Therefore, a strong extension drive is needed to show production groups the potential of locally produced oils. This will also mean that (simple) oil extraction techniques will have to be brought to the villages. This might start up a cottage industry of oil pressing and soap manufacturing in the long run.


Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)


Sunflower tolerates light frost. It prefers low to medium altitudes and is relatively drought-tolerant with some dwarf cultivars growing with as little as 400 mm of rain. Humid conditions favour severe attacks of grey mould (Botrytis cinerea). Deep well-drained soils are most suitable (Banda et al., 1997).


The advantages of including sunflower in the crop rotation are that it requires very little inputs and in areas with a high incidence of Striga, it helps to reduce seed stocks of Striga as the roots of the sunflower activate the seeds to germinate but do not allow the seedlings to parasitise (trap crop function) (van Engelen, 2000).


In Tanzania, it is difficult for sunflower oil to compete with other oils available on the market is difficult. All the cheaply imported oil depresses prices paid for sunflower oil. The local industry can thus only survive by lowering prices paid to farmers (van Engelen, 2000).


Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius)


This crop produces oil which is high in vitamin E and is claimed to be very healthy but few people are willing to pay extra money for that. There are possibilities for export, especially when organically produced. Seeds contain around 40% oil.


Safflower comes in two distinct types: one with very spinous leaves that is used for oil production and a less spinous one that is used for production of yellow dye. In order to obtain good yields the plant needs an area with 600-1,000 mm annual rainfall, but does not like high rainfall and humidity as this promotes diseases in the crop. A dry atmosphere is required to enhance flowering, and proper seed set and high oil content. Therefore, the crop should be sown towards the end of the rainy season, similar to chickpeas. Also with 400 mm there will still be a harvestable crop. Safflower prefers moderately heavy soils. After maturing the crop is uprooted or cut, heaped for a few days to dry, threshed and winnowed. The rainfed crop is sown in rows 45-65 cm apart or broadcast. It has been shown to be able to produce a crop on residual moisture in rice fields after harvesting and removing the straw of the rice, yielding 400 kg/ha without any further work involved after sowing. Seed rate is around 11-17kg/ha. The growing period is between 120 to 160 days.

Moringa (Moringa oleifera)


The seeds of Moringa have an oil content of 40%. The oil resembles olive oil in its chemical composition. There is one company in Tanzania, Optima of Africa (with mother company Optima Velvet in Switzerland) that actively promotes the production of this tree. Morgina is a perennial but intercropping with food crops is possible which makes it a less risky crop for farmers to embark on. See also Annex III.

Groundnuts (Arachis hypogaea)

Groundnuts must be grown in areas which are free of frost, at least during the growing period and where rainfall is 400 mm or more. Drought during the growth period restricts vegetative development and hinders peg penetration if the soil becomes dry and crusted. Fairly dry conditions are required for ripening, harvesting and drying of the crop. Light sandy loam soils are preferred to heavier clays, but heavy or waterlogged soils are not favoured for vegetative growth and when they dry out make harvesting difficult. The crop is considered day neutral and tolerates a wide range of acidity. Weeding should be done in the earlier stages of growth. Cultivation after peg elongation has started disturbs the pegs and makes it easier for the rosette virus to spread (Banda et al., 1997).




Apparently, there is no strategic market in Tanzania for groundnuts as domestic consumption is the major market. Export to neighbouring countries (e.g. Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi) is done unofficially. Usually groundnuts produced in small-scale production systems have a too high aflatoxin content to be acceptable at European markets. There is also no local oil manufacturing from groundnuts in Tanzania as there is in e.g. West Africa. At the moment it is unlikely that such an industry could compete with the existing oil packaging industry and in the absence of protection against uncontrolled import of oils and fats into the country, groundnut will remain a crop for domestic use only. As production is only on very small scale, it is hard to get quantities large enough for wholesalers and export orders, not to mention of an acceptable quality (van Engelen, 2000).




Baobab (Adansonia digitata)


Baobabs are quite common in the drier parts of Tanzania and Zambia. The white pulp around the seeds is used in the production of juice, or is coloured and eaten by children as sweets. The oil extracted from the seeds is used in cosmetics. There is a factory in Arusha pressing the oil and it imposes stringent quality requirements, according to the quality requirements of its main client (the Body Shop).

Jatropha (Jatropha curcas)


Jatropha oil is not edible but can be used as diesel fuel in special engines. The bottom line for the economic importance of this oil is the price of diesel. As Jatropha is commonly planted as fence, the cost of its oil would be the price of collection and pressing. For the cultivation of vanilla (Kagera Region and Pemba, see section XX) Jatropha can also be used as support and shadowing plant (see Annex III).


In low rainfall areas the best propagation method is with cuttings or seedlings raised in a nursery. In other areas, direct sowing will give a good result. Up to one kg of seeds could be harvested per year per m of fence. With an oil extraction rate of 20%, a hectare fenced with Jatropha could give an additional income of 80 litres of fuel oil.


Jatropha fences are also assisting in erosion control. The plant contains strong insecticides and an extract of the cakes or a mixture with the oil can be used as a biological means to control pests. The seed cake, like all other non-edible cakes, makes a good manure.


Neem (Azadirachta indica)

Neem seeds have a high oil content (40%) and the oil is suitable for soap manufacturing resulting in soap with disinfectant/medicinal properties, useful to control scabies or pests in organic agricultural production. Press cake has many application possibilities, like for example as mosquito repellent, medicine (chicken typhoid, deworming pigs and young cattle), pesticide (berry disease and leaf miners in coffee and ants in coconut cultivation, all under research), and in grain storage to control weevils. A mixture of leaves and press cake can be used as fertiliser and nematod controller at once (in tomato and tobacco crop) (personal communication from Mr. Nicolas Eriyo, Chair Person, Tanzania 2000).



Neem seeds loose their viability rapidly and should be sown within 2-3 weeks after harvesting. The fruits of the Neem tree should be soaked in water for one or two days in order to remove the fruit pulp. The seeds should then be dried and can then be pressed or used for sowing. Neem seedlings are raised in nurseries and have a relatively slow growth rate. Trees can produce seeds twice a year (van Engelen, 2000).


In Tanga (Tanzania), there is a Neem Botanical Research Association Ltd. (NBRA) which has tree departments: a medicinal, agricultural and industrial one. In the agricultural department, research is carried out to find new applications of Neem cake as bio-pesticide. NBRA does not contract farmers to grow Neem trees but buys the seeds (at Tsh 250/kg first grade seeds) from children and elderly people collecting the seeds from the trees in streets of Tanga. If more seed is needed, they ask neighbouring districts to collect seeds and purchase from them. In the near future (2001), however, NBRA plans to plant a ten acre field with Neem trees.

Castor (Ricinus communis)


Castor is drought-resistant needing between 380 and 500 mm of rain during a growing season of 140 to 180 days. It does not tolerate heavy rainfall or waterlogging, and grows best on deep well-drained soils. Poor seed set results from temperatures greater than 40°C during the flowering period. Sometimes the plants are topped when 1 m high to encourage branching. Castor needs a hot, dry climate for proper development of fruits and seeds for harvesting. The advantage of Castor for smallholders is that the crop only needs a minimum of inputs (else it grows too high and harvest is hampered) and it can be managed without much experience. Farmers can grow any variety or even pick wild seeds as oil content does not differ much along varieties (Banda et al., 1997).


Castor used to be an important crop in Tanzania but has faded a bit. The oil is very toxic but has special characteristics for industrial use. It is commercially grown in the USA and other countries. In Tanzania it usually grows along streams and roadsides. Its price depends totally on the international market but at Tsh 80/kg, this crop is no option to be cultivated although collection of seeds might still be interesting as there are buyers for this crop in Arusha (Tanzania) (van Engelen, 2000).


In Zambia, there is a Castor Company of Zambia Ltd., owned by the Castor Growers Association Zambia (CGAZ), which was formed and registered in 1997 by small-scale farmers who experienced problems to access inputs and market their produce. CGAZ is presented in Box 4.2.


Box 4.7. Presentation of Castor Company of Zambia Ltd. (CCZ)

Castor Company of Zambia Ltd. was established in 1997 out of the Castor Growers Association Zambia (CGAZ). To be eligible for funding from the World Bank, the association had to transform itself into a company (CCZ) operating in a commercial way. The members of the association own the company and participate in profits made through payment of dividends. The company sells inputs and buys produce from its members (US$ 0.22/kg Castor beans compared to 400 Kw or US$ 0.10/kg maize). Castor beans are then exported to Zimbabwe where the oil is extracted which is imported back to Zambia in 20 litre drums. CCZ buys Castor oil, adds other oils and fragrance, put it in bottles and labels it so value is added into the end product: Castor Hair Oil which can generate enough profits to make CCZ self-sustaining (already by 2002) as they can easily export the hair oil to South Africa, Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zimbabwe. There has been taken care of the marketing aspect (posters were made), customer lists and orders are there but CCZ cannot deliver the end product or buy produce from farmers because there is no working capital anymore as the third part of the World Bank fund (which should be delivered in time through MAFF) did not arrive. This puts the existence of CCZ in serious danger and farmers are not motivated anymore to grow castor for the next season.

(Source: personal communication from Mr. Billy Chilila, Managing Director of CCZ, Zambia 22001)

Sesame (Sesamum indicum)


Sesame is quite drought-tolerant and grows in areas with an annual rainfall of 500 to 1,140 mm. The crop is sensitive to frost but is tolerant of many types of soils and can grow well on poor soils. Deep, well-drained sandy loams are the best, however, and is usually intercropped with maize and/or sorghum.. Sesame is a low-input crop requiring minimum or no fertiliser. Sesame seeds have an oil content between 40 and 50%. There are varieties with different colours. For oil extraction the colour of the seed is not very important but for confectionery purposes it should be white (Banda et al., 1997; van Engelen, 2000).


According to van Engelen (2000), farmers in Tanzania (Lake zone) are not aware of the fact that there is a demand for the crop. When farmers are asked why they do not grow this crop to a larger extent, they answer that there is no market. After an internet search and after talking with trading houses, van Engelen (2000) found parties interested to buy sesame. Again there seems to be a missing link between farmers and the market.

Essential oils


Essential oils fit in well with the constraint on transport infrastructure in Tanzania and Zambia as their value per volume is very high. Market research is needed to find possible markets. Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus), Vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides), etc. are also suitable to be cultivated in Tanzania or Zambia.


In Zambia, OPPAZ and Zambili d’Afrique (see also section 3.4.1.) are engaged in organic growing of herbs. It was mentioned by Zambili d’Afrique that this crop is limited to farmers who live near Lusaka (at maximum 50 km away) as oil extraction has to take place soon after harvesting and there is only one place (i.e. Lusaka) where oil is extracted.


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