• Saturday, July 13, 2024
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This “cash-cow” seed has managed to elude investors 

This “cash-cow” seed has managed to elude investors 

The name- sesame seed might be strange to some Nigerians. The seed – popularly called Benne seed in the Northern part of Nigeria is an important crop to the Nigerian agricultural sector and non-oil sector. The crop is largely cultivated in the country, thriving in relatively poor climatic conditions.

According to the Foreign Trade Statistics Q3 2019, the seed ranks top on the list of traded Agricultural products ahead of cocoa beans and cashew nuts. The total value of sesame exports in Q3 2019 was 14.83 billion, according to the Foreign Trade Statistics Report for Q3 2018 released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Due to the drought-resistant nature of the sesame plant, it thrives excellently in the Northern part of the country and averagely in some parts of South West states.

Sesame seed production probably began in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria before spreading to other states. The leading producers of the seeds are Jigawa, Nasarawa, Benue, and Sokoto. Other sesame cultivating states include Yobe, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Gombe, and Plateau states.

However, the seed can also thrive in some parts of the South East and South-South, since it has been successfully cultivated in Ebonyi State and the Northern part of Cross River State. Sesame also grew when planted in Delta State, but its hybrid did not yield many seeds, although the leaves were bigger.

Checks by BusinessDay shows that sesame seed is cultivated in about 26 states across the country with good returns for sesame farmers, buoyed by the huge demand by importers, its cultivation is expected to increase and spread to other states soon.

Why is the demand for this small seed huge?

Sesame seed has numerous uses, one of which is in 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.

Read also: Nigeria must become a nation of angel investors

Has Nigeria tapped into the sesame value chain?

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 Lagos, nevertheless, there are no hauling operations.

Currently, the exportation of sesame seeds in Nigeria is led by three companies: Olam, Kelani Ark Poter Hamlet Ltd, and Greenwen International Resources. Olam is an Indian agribusiness multinational company operating from seeds to shelves in over 60 companies. Olam also exports cash crops like cocoa, coffee, etc. Kelani Ark Poter Hamlet Ltd is a seasoned exporter of most agro-allied products from Nigeria. Other leading sesame seed exporting companies include Errand Horse Ltd, Paveway International Traders Ltd, etc.

Although, 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. Nigeria manufacturers can better make use of this seed if they can engage in value addition process to the seed.

No doubt this small sesame seed can be termed a diamond in the rough, which can earn Nigeria billions of dollars in foreign exchange annually if government pay more attention to the seed and encourage investment in its value chain. Also, its oil could be extracted on a commercial scale, with much value addition.