CANOLA A VALUABLE OILSEED CROP

By Dr. SYED MANZOOR ALAM
May 24 - 30, 2004

Canola is the combination of three words Canadian oil association. It is produced by crushing seed from Canada,s own oilseed crop Canola. Canola is a genetic variation of rapeseed developed by Canadian plant breeders through traditional plant breeding techniques, specifically for its nutritional qualities. Grown primarily in Western Canada, each canola plant grows anywhere from 1 m (3.3 feet) to 2 m (6.6 feet) tall and produces yellow flowers which, in turn, produce seed pods. The seed pods are about one-fifth the size of pea pods and contain about twenty tiny round black or brownish-yellow seeds. Each canola seed is approximately 40 percent oil. The seeds are crushed to obtain canola oil for human consumption and the remainder is processed into canola meal, which is used as a high protein livestock feed.

Canola oil is a top-notch salad oil with its light color and texture. The mild flavor of Canola oil complements the wonderful taste of fresh herbs and spices in a home made vinaigrette. Canola oil is also excellent for cooking and baking. Its high smoke-point makes it ideal for fonduing, stir frying and deep fat frying. Canola oil also doesn't transfer flavors from one food to another when more than one food is fried. Research indicates that Canola oil drains more thoroughly than melted shortening, leaving foods 5 to 10 percent lower in calories than the same foods fried in melted shortening. Baking with Canola oil can help reduce your saturated fatty acid-intake. Substituting Canola oil for butter, lard or brick margarine replaces fats high in saturated fatty acids with an oil which has the lowest level of saturated fatty acids. Further, substituting oil for solid fats reduces the quantity of oil by 20 percent which in turn reduces total fat-intake! Substituting Canola oil does modify the texture, usually making the baked product softer and more moist.

Canola's history goes back to the rapeseed plant, but canola and rapeseed are not the same. Because canola and rapeseed have different chemical compositions, the names cannot be used interchangeably. In the 1970's, Canadian plant breeders produced canola by genetically altering rapeseed in two ways: reducing the levels of glucosinolates (which contribute to the sharp taste in mustard) and licosenic and erucic acids (two fatty acids not essential for human growth). Canola oil is defined as an oil that must contain less than 2% erucic acid, and the solid component of the seed must contain less than 30 micromoles of any one or any mixture of 3-butenyl glucosinolate, 4-pentenyl glucosinolate, 2-hydroxy-3 butenyl glucosinolate, and 2-hydroxy- 4-pentenyl glucosinolate per gram of air-dry, oil-free solid.

Canola from Canada is either sold as seed to foreign countries where it is processed (crushed) into oil, or it is crushed in Canada and sold as oil here or to foreign countries. (A very small amount of seed is used directly in the feed industry.) When the seed is crushed in Canada, the by-product of the crush is canola meal which is used as a protein supplement in feed rations for livestock. Approximately 40 percent of Canada's canola seed is directly exported to Japan for processing by Japanese crushers. Canola oil is Canada's leading vegetable oil and Canada has the highest per capita consumption globally. Due to strong demand from the US for Canada's healthy alternative oil, about 70% of Canada's canola oil is exported to the U.S.

Pakistan is deficient in edible oils despite being an agriculture country. Its domestic production hardly meets over 25 per cent of country's requirement. Pakistan's resources for the last forty years with the little hope for creating a base for sustained increase in local production. It has been assumed that due to increase in rapid population growth, the demand for edible oil has been continuously increasing somewhat at the rate of nearly 7-8 per cent per year. Pakistan imports edible oil (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 about 600,000 tons of edible oils are produced indigenously. Local production of edible oils comes mostly from rapeseed, mustard, sesame, groundnut, linseed and cotton seed, sunflower, safflower and soybean. More recently as a non-traditional oil crop has made its appearance in the country and is expected to become an important edible oil yielding crop. The last six years introduction campaign by the government, agencies has helped familiarization of this crop and the product amongst farming community and for Pakistan Oilseed Development Board has 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 four provinces and it has been reported that this crop has been under cultivation on about 350,000 acres of land with the production of 150,000 tons of seeds in the year 2000. The break up of canola cultivation areas is as 250,000 acres in Punjab, 60,000 acres in Sindh, 40,000 acres each in NWFP and Balochistan. 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 requirement, sowing date etc. It can be grown on all kinds of land, expect extremely sandy and saline lands. Water and fertilizer requirements are limited which makes it more attractive to cultivators. Its easies cultivation method, no risks from bird damage, simpler harvesting and threshing methods. 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 rapeseed and mustard. Canola has now been taken up by the edible oil industry in the country for large scale production and extensive marketing as health oil.

Canola's share of processed consumer vegetable oil products is roughly 45% of margarines, 60% of shortenings and 80% of salad oils produced. Canadian canola oil exports represent over half of the oil produced by Canadian crushers. Exports are primarily to the US but also to many destinations in the Far East. The industry has the ability to meet demands for highly selective products to fill niche market opportunities. The consumer is demanding choice at the retail level and the industry is meeting this challenge with a diversified base of specialty products. These range from specialty canola oil formulations for use as a replacement component in the confectionery industry, and canola oils that do not require hydrogenation for use in commercial frying and packed foods. Canola oil is also used in the manufacture of inks, as biodegradable greases, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and other uses.

Approximately 45 percent of canola production is trucked to the nearest processor where it is crushed for oil. Plants are located across Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Seed delivered to a processing plant is graded according to a strict grading standard established and maintained by the Canadian Grain Commission. Payment to the farmer is based on grade. Graded seed is then cleaned to remove plant stalks, grain seeds and other materials. Processing canola involves heating and crushing the seeds to release the oil. Once the oil is extracted, it is mixed and processed according to end product requirements. Different treatments are used to process salad oils, cooking oil. Frying and baking margarines and shortenings. The leftover meal is processed into pellets or mash. Canola meal is used as a protein supplement in dairy, beef, swine and poultry rations and is recognized for its consistent quality and value. The increased processing activity within Canada has led to rising consumption and exports of meal and product mixtures. Feed mixtures include such items as pea-can meal (combining dry peas and canola meal) as well as incorporating canola meal with dehydrated alfalfa products. The bulk of Canada's canola meal exports supply the US feed ingredient market which imports over a million tonnes annually and represents 80% or more of total meal exports. Feed deficit Asian countries like Japan, Taiwan and South Korea are also consistent markets for Canadian meal.