How sesame tumbled as Nigeria’s top non-oil export product

Sesame seeds, which had led non-oil exports in Nigeria for many years, lost its top spot to urea in the first quarter of this year.

Data obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics show that sesame seeds ranked the fourth-biggest non-oil export product in the first quarter of 2022.

The data also revealed that sesame seeds was the seventh-biggest of Nigeria’s total exports with a total of 0.79 percent share of total exports in the first quarter of 2022, a sharp contrast compared to the corresponding period last year when sesame seeds accounted for the highest chunk of Nigeria’s non-oil export.

Wale Oyekoya, agriculturalist and a former chairman of agriculture and non-oil sector group at Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said sesame seeds being planted are agitated, and there had been no update from research and development, hence the low yield in production.

The market for sesame seeds is quite vast with Japan and China as the major importers of the seeds. Countries like Turkey, India, Poland, and the Netherlands have also traded with Nigeria in the past.

In the first quarter of 2022, Nigeria exported sesame valued at N24.34 billion to China, N11.11 billion to Japan, N9.44 billion to Vietnam, N2.35 billion to Turkey, and N2.19 billion to Greece.

According to Statista, Nigeria is the third-largest producer of sesame seeds in Africa, with about 490,000 metric tonnes produced in 2020.

Oyekoya explained that sesame seed production in Nigeria is being faced with challenges like insecurity, lack of funding, and lack of mechanisation.

Currently, sesame is mainly grown in the northern region of the country. Jigawa has the highest area of production and total production in the country, followed by Benue State.

Read also: Sesame tops Nigeria’s agric export amid COVID-19 pandemic

During the quarter, total trade in agricultural goods stood at N644.94 billion, of which exports accounted for N201.59 billion, which was higher than N132.71 billion in the fourth quarter of 2021 and N127.31 billion in the corresponding quarter of 2021.

The figure indicates that the value of agricultural exports grew by 51.89 percent in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the fourth quarter of 2021 and 58.35 percent compared to the corresponding quarter of 2021.

Sesame seed is popular because of its numerous health and industrial benefits. Also, the seed has a higher oil content compared to other oilseed crops.

Sesame seed has numerous health and industrial benefits and is widely used for baking, medicine, cosmetics, and animal feeds. It also has a high oil content of between 44 and 60 percent.

Considering its numerous health benefits and the growing preference for organic foods, the demand for the commodity has continued to grow and this is positive for Nigeria.

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