Nigeria’s sesame seed is fast gaining traction in the global market as farmers’ ramp up production in efforts to explore opportunities to earn substantial dollars through non-oil export.
Nigeria, the world’s third largest producer and supplier of sesame seed, saw the volume of its global supply increase by 7 percent, from 432,900MT in 2015 to 460,988MT in 2016, according to data compiled by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).
Industry players say there will likely to a 20 to 40 percent increase in production when numbers for 2017 is made available, noting that the country has drastically increased its sesame seed production in recent years.
“There is a high demand for Nigeria’s sesame seed in the international market now and a lot of farmers are growing the crop because of the huge export potential. Last year alone, we ought to have increase our production between 20 and 40 percent,” Victor Iyama, president, Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association Nigeria (FACAN) told BusinessDay.
“In 2017, we exported over 300,000MT tons and we can do over 500,000MT this year because the demand for our sesame in the international market is very high,” Iyama said.
He said that the industry is currently worth about $700 million and that the crop requires a short period to grow. Sesame seed production is steadily growing by the day and it is now Nigeria’s second most important non-oil export crop after cocoa, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data show.
Data from NBS shows that sesame seed export increased by 105 percent year on year from N13 billion in Q1 2017 to N27 billion in Q1 2018. A total of N42 billion worth of sesame was exported in 2017, according to the NBS.
“Sesame is one agricultural produce that does not have any quality challenges. Moisture is not a major issue because the crop is very easy to dry,” Madu Obiora, former chairman-export group, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said in a telephone interview.
“Despite the fact that we are growing more sesame seeds and the demand for it is increasing daily, we are yet to get the full benefits in growing the crop because of the very low investments in processing. The big money is in value addition,” Obiora said. The bulk of Nigeria’s sesame seeds are exported to Asia, Europe and the United States.
Sesame crop thrives well in the northern part of the country owing to its drought resistance nature. It is mostly grown in Jigawa, Bauchi, Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Taraba, Abuja and some parts of the South West. It can also be grown in some parts of the South East and South-South.
“Sesame has a lot of potentials. It has both commercial and medicinal value and oil extracted from the seeds is better than every other seed oil,” Mutairu Mamudu, national president, Sesame Farmers Association of Nigeria told BusinessDay in a telephone response to questions.
“It is 100 percent free of cholesterol and that is why the demand for it is very huge both locally and internationally,” said Mamudu.
Currently, prices of a metric ton of sesame seed in Nigeria has increased by 29 percent from N350,000 in April to N450,000 in August.
“A lot of exporters are trooping our farmland looking for sesame to buy. Some are even willing to buy from us directly from the farm before you harvest,” Danladi Mohammed, a sesame farmer in Kebbi state said.