As Nigeria explores opportunities to earn substantial dollars through the non-oil export, sesame seeds could play a vital role, as export figures for the crop in 2018 hits N89 billion.
The crop is gaining a lot of traction in Asia and Nigerian exporters are positioning to supply the market.
The latest foreign trade report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows that sesame seeds worth N34billion was exported in q4 2018 from N15.8billion over the same period in 2017, representing 115 percent year-on-year increase.
While on a quarter on quarter basis the country export for the period rose by 278 percent from N9 billion in q3 2018 to N34 billion in q4 2018.
Stakeholders say the export numbers are an indication that the sesame seed production has the capacity to grow and earn the country huge foreign exchange and create hundreds of jobs as long as the government draws a master plan for the sub-sector, as it has done in rice.
“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.
He noted that the country is still not exploiting the full potentials of sesame, urging the government to encourage more investments in the value chain of the crop.
Nigeria’s sesame production is put at 200,000 metric tonnes with an average of 0.8 metric tonnes per hectare, according to data obtained from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).
Sesame seed is Nigeria’s biggest agricultural produce exported to Japan. It is considered as one of the world’s oldest oilseed crop that has the highest oil content than any other seed.
The oil extracted from the seed is used in making vegetable oil and for medicinal purposes for treatment of ulcers and burnt. The stem as well as the oil is used by cosmetic industry in the production of soaps and other beauty products.
Mamudu stated that a kilo of sesame is sold for N350 while a metric ton is sold for N350, 000 at the farm gate. Sesame is mainly grown in the northern region of the country.
Sesame was mainly exported to China and Japan.
Agricultural sector exported a total of N302 billion agro commodity for the year.