Sesame seed also known as Beniseed is a cash crop with wide varieties in Africa. Based on its colour, it is classified into the white and brown varieties. The white grain (Food Grade) is used by bakeries for pastry garnishing and salad while the brown grain, often referred to as the oil grade, is used in the production of sesame oil. Experts say it is the second highest agro-commodity foreign exchange earner after cocoa.
The seed has numerous uses, one of which is its being a very good source of vegetable oil that contains no cholesterol, making it the most demanded vegetable oil in the world.
It can be used in pharmaceuticals, confectionery, cosmetics and many industries for paints, soaps, lubricants, shampoos, etc. Sesame seeds contain 50.5% oil and 25% protein.
Production of Sesame seed
Worldwide, there are over 4.8 million tonnes of the seeds produced yearly, with Myanmar being its largest producer. Nigeria is now the 2nd largest African producer, behind Sudan and ranked 7th in the world, with about 580,000 tonnes produced in 2017. 90% of sesame seeds produced in Nigeria is exported. In Q1’18, it was the most exported non-oil commodity, contributing 0.57% to the total export value and 36.39% of agricultural exports.
Sources of Sesame seed
The four major states that produce this commodity in Nigeria are Taraba, Jigawa, Nasarawa and Benue, while Kogi, Katsina, Adamawa, Kebbi, Gombe and Northern Cross River, among others, also produce the crop
Cultivation of Sesame seed
The crop is planted between June and October depending on rainfall pattern and location and matures within three months. The high yielding and disease-resistant varieties such as Kenana 44, which yields about 1tonne per hectare is most preferred by experts. On fertiliser application, experts advise to apply three bags of NPK fertilizer and one bag of Urea per hectare at the right time to get the best result.
Export Potential of Sesame seed
Nigeria’s Sesame seeds holds value for exports and is currently in hot demand throughout the world because oil extracted from the seeds is better than any other oil in the whole world. The total value of sesame exports in Q1 2018 was N26.6 billion, according to Foreign Trade Statistics Report for Q1 2018 released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). This shows an increase of 83.1% from N14.53 billion generated in Q4 2017 and a year on year growth of 104.1% from N13.03 billion the seeds generated in Q1 2017.
Some reasons why we need to really consider this opportunity lnclude:
The global demand for the commodity is on the increase, global sesame seed market is expected to grow at a 4.2% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2018 - 2024. Nigeria exports to China, Turkey, Japan, Vietnam and South Korea. The commodity has numerous health and industrial benefits and is widely used for baking, medicine, cosmetics and animal feeds. It also has high oil content (44–60%). Considering its health benefits and the growing preference for organic foods, the demand is likely to continue to grow, which is positive for Nigeria.
In Nigeria, about 37.33% of the land area is arable. This offers a solid foundation for the cultivation of the crop. The fact that sesame seeds are also drought-resistant and require little or no fertilizer makes them cheaper to cultivate.
Sadly, Nigeria only engages in the exportation of the seeds and does not extract the oil at commercial scale. Contract cleaning facilities are available in Kano and Lagos, nevertheless, there are no hauling operations.
Export Destination of Sesame seed
Nigeria’s leading agricultural export is majorly exported to Asia and Europe. The total value of sesame exports in Q1 2018 was N26.6 billion. China and Japan are the leading destinations for sesame seeds grown in Nigeria. N8 billion worth of sesame seeds were exported to China, N6.56 billion to Japan and N6.1 billion to Turkey in the first quarter of 2018.
Other top sesame seed importing countries from Nigeria in Q1 2018 include Vietnam, with N2.2 billion worth of the seed’s import, and the Netherlands with N800 million
Current Players of Sesame seed
The buying and exportation of sesame seeds in Nigeria is led by three companies:
Kelani Ark Poter Hamlet Ltd
Greenwen International Resources
Errand Horse Ltd
Paveway International Traders Ltd
Since the seeds are majorly cultivated by peasant farmers, their commercialization is carried out by buyers and middlemen, who move round the rural areas of Northern Nigeria to buy from these subsistence farmers. These buyers transport the seeds to big towns, where they are stored and sold to the agents of major sesame seed exporters.
The urban markets in these sesame producing states are the buying centres/towns for exporters. These buying centres include Malam-Madori in Jigawa, Doma in Nasarawa, Potiskum in Yobe and Dawanau in Kano State.