CANOLA: A VALUABLE OILSEED
DR. S. M. ALAM
Mar 14 - 20, 2011
Canola is the combination of two words - Canadian and oil. 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, produces 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 per cent 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. 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 per cent 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 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 per cent 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 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 byproduct of the crush is canola meal, which is used as a protein supplement in feed rations for livestock. Approximately 40 per cent 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 per cent of Canada's canola oil is exported to the US.
EDIBLE OIL IN PAKISTAN
Pakistan is deficient in edible oils despite being an agriculture country. Its domestic production hardly meets over 25 per cent of country's requirement. 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. Local production of edible oils comes mostly from rapeseed, mustard, sesame, groundnut, linseed and cottonseed, 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. Pakistan Oilseed Development Board helped 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. The breakup of canola cultivation areas is as 250,000 acres in Punjab, 60,000 acres in Sindh, 40,000 acres each in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa 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, except extremely sandy and saline lands. Water and fertilizer requirements are limited, which make it more attractive to cultivators. Its easiest 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 per cent of margarines, 60 per cent of shortenings, and 80 per cent 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. Canola oil is also used in the manufacture of inks, as biodegradable greases, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and other uses.
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. 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 tones annually and represents 80 per cent or more of total meal exports. Feed deficit Asian countries like Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea are also consistent markets for Canadian meal.