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Canola an important oilseed crop

Canola would have a better future than sunflower crop under the present circumstances

By DR. S.M.ALAM and DR. R.ANSARI
Nuclear Institute of Agriculture,
Tando Jam, Pakistan
Nov 20 - 26, 2000

Pakistan is deficient in edible oils despite being an agricultural country. Its domestic production hardly meets over 25 per cent of country's requirement. Shortage of edible oils has been afflicting Pakistan's resources for the last 30 years with little hope for creating a base for sustained increase in local production. The country is self-sufficient in certain food commodities of daily use, but the shortage of edible oil is a serious problem. It has been assumed that due to increase in the rapid population growth, the demand for edible oil has been continuously increasing somewhat at the rate of nearly 7-8 per cent per annum. Edible oil imports increased by 16 times during the last two decades, showing annual growth rate of 13 per cent. Import bill has increased from 135 million in 1970-71 to 15.2 billion in 1992-93.Annual per capita consumption of fats and oils increased from 3.3 to 19.2 kg during the same period. Presently, indigenous varieties of rapeseed and mustard are not being used in the manufacturing vegetable oil as they contain high level of glucosinolate and erucic acid, which are considered harmful to human health. And suspected of causing heart damage. Canola is an improved variety of conventional rapeseed variety and oil extracted from canola fresh of pungency, eruoic acid and glucosinate, cholesterol has the lowest percentage of saturated fats (4%) and has very high level of unsaturated fats (96%). Since 1970, the accumulating deficit which went on building up at the rate of about 12 per cent reached 1.1 million tons by 1995 costing over Rs. 30 billion per year. In 1997, Pakistan imported 1.6 million tons of edible oils (palm oil and soybean) for its population placing import of this commodity second in order of magnitude after petroleum in the country. On the other hand, the local production in the country is still far behind the demand of the population. And only 400,000 tons are produced indigenously. A staggering figure of Rs 33 billion is spent on the import of this item only. Local production of edible Oils comes mostly from its traditional sources, namely cottonseed, rapeseed, mustard, sesame, groundnut, linseed and non-traditional oilseeds namely sunflower, safflower and soybean. More recently, canola as a nontraditional oil crop has made its appearance on the scene and is expected to become an important edible oil-yielding crop. An oilseed crop of an exotic species of Brasslca napus commonly known as 'canola' is the name given by the trade to the type of sarson with improved edible oil and meal quality has been introduced for cultivation in the different provinces of Pakistan to gain production in edible oil. The last three years introduction campaign by the government, agencies has helped familiarization of the crop and the product amongst farming community and for Pakistan Oilseed Development Board has to help the agencies in spreading awareness in rural areas about the importance and profitability of the canola cultivation.

The cultivation of canola is very common in all the provinces and it has been reported that this crop has been under cultivation on about 325,000 acres of land with the production of 129000 tons of seeds in the year 1996-97. The break up for the canola cultivation areas is as 200,000 acres in Punjab, 50,000 acres in Sindh, 30,000 acres each in NWFP and Balochistan. Following the development of canola varieties primarily in Europe and Canada, its cultivation was to quick. The introduction of canola for cultivation in Pakistan has been quite slow. Canola has better prospects of cultivation partly as replacement (30-40%) of the existing acreage under traditional rape and mustard varieties as well as an inter crop with cotton, sugarcane and wheat. It's easier cultivation methods no risks from bird damage, simpler harvesting and threshing operations lower competition from other crops and suitability for local crushing through Mechanical expellers are advantage of this crop. Canola oil is odorless, ideal for cooking, frying and backing. It is 100 per cent safe with negligible cholesterol. It is better than the other non-traditional oils, because of its very low erucic acid and saturated fat level. Its saturated fat level and sulfur compounds are 6% as compared to 11% of sunflower and 13% of corn oil. The oil and meal quality of canola have been so changed through breeding that oil compares with sunflower oil nutritionally and the meal is as good as soybean and sunflower meal.

It has been reported that the cultivation of canola has behaved differently in different areas, because of variable environmental factors such as soils, irrigation, fertilizer application, sowing date etc. It can be grown on all kinds of land, except extremely sandy and saline stress. Water and fertilizer requirements are limited which makes it more attractive to cultivators. Its easier cultivation method, no risks from bird damage, simpler harvesting and threshing operations, lower competition from other crops, suitability for local crushing through mechanical expellers and usage at home scale are advantages of this crop. Thus it may be remarked that canola would have a better future than sunflower crop under the present circumstances.