‘Nigeria Capable Of Generating N500bn Annually On Sesame Seed’

Lagos– Sesame seed has the potential to generate foreign exchange in excess of N500billion annually into government and farmers’ coffers, if given deserved attention and proper funding, Independent Newspapers has gathered.

Sesame for those who are not aware is one of the ingredients used for toppings for burger but the Japanese mainly consumes the seeds and oil garnered from the seed.

It is a highly nutritional produce with high investment value and it is mainly grown by smallholder farmers in Nasarawa, Jigawa, Benue, Yobe, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Gombe and Plateau States among others.

Independent gathered that there are about 4.8 million tonnes of sesame seeds produced around the world annually with Myanmar being the largest producer, while India and China are the largest exporters.The largest importers of this seed are Japan, Canada, the United States, France, the Netherlands and Turkey, among others.

But in Africa, Ethiopia is the largest exporter, followed by Sudan, while Nigeria is the third largest producer of Sesame in Africa after Sudan and Ethiopia and the 6th largest in the world.

However, foreign trade report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in the first quarter of 2017 showed that the country’s agriculture export increased significantly with sesame seed topping the agricultural products exported during the period generating a total of N13billion worth exports to Turkey, China, India, Japan and Vietnam.

With a current output of about 300,000metric tonnes annually, the country is currently earning about N110billion annually from the export of sesame seed.

However, report has it that Nigeria is the largest exporter of the seed to Japan with 54,276 metric tonnes in 2016.

Stakeholders who spoke in an interview with our correspondent said it was a positive move for the country, saying that it has the potential to shore up the country’s earnings and boost foreign exchange.

Emphasising that deliberate attention on the seed in view of its economic values to the country could be another foreign exchange spinner for Nigeria, Wale Oyekoya, Chief Executive Officer, Bama Farms Limited, it has become imperative for the government to encourage the cultivation of the seed at a period a continued dependence on oil as the mainstay of the economy is gradually loosing relevance in the global market.

Emphasising the need to sustain the current tempo of the commendable diversification into the export trade by the government, Oyekoya called for attention in the direction of processing, saying that whenever produce are being exported raw, jobs that are meant for the youths and citizens are being exported.

He advised government to increase production and assist farmers with high breed seeds to enable them increase the current level of production and meet increased market demands.

“If we have the improve seed definitely we are going to produce more than what we are having right now and also have a processing plant in some of the geopolitical zones or where some of these sesame seeds are produced.

“I just want us to increase our production and we don’t relent on our effort, we still need to improve on our production because our population is increasing daily,” he said.

Anga Sotonye, an agribusiness strategist said “It portends increased revenue generation because sesame seed is a dynamic crop and an important oil seed that is being used heavily across Asia in Japan, Turkey and other places in the Middle East and the demand is massive.

Stressing the need for value addition to the seed before export to boost foreign earnings, he said the country stands to gain immensely by developing the right attitude and determination to processing prior to export.

“We need to step up our game; we need to deliberately step up our games right now; we just export raw sesame seed, but the potential for the industrialisation of sesame seed is very huge and it has greater prospects in terms of more revenue generation and reduction of poverty and unemployment.

“If we add value to sesame seed the economic benefit will be far more. We will be earning close to about N500billion annually, the potential is huge and that will enable us to expand sesame production,” he said.

Ade Adefeko, Vice President Corporate and Government Relations Olam said it is worthy development and it should be a thing of pride, saying that his organisation pioneered the domestic hulling and first to export a large haul of sesame to Japan in 1995.

According to him, “Olam has the largest state of the art multi-billion Naira sesame processing facility in Sagamu with a capacity for 100,000 metric tonnes where we clean, colour sort and haul the sesame and that is value added.”

In addition to that, he said Olam has distributed seeds to farmers; provide credit facilities for inputs such as fertilizers, sickles and sieves.

National President of Sesame Farmers Association of Nigeria, Mutairu Mamudu said sesame has lots of potential, commercial and medicinal value just as oil extracted from the seeds is better than every other seed oil.

He said the report is an indication that sesame seed production in the country has the capacity to grow, earn forex and create hundreds of jobs if the government can support the subsector as it has done to rice.

“It has increased our income, prices have increased; imagine 100kg of sesame seed selling about 40,000 as against about N15, 000 before. It has also helped to increase our income and also helped to increase our national growth rate,” he added.

He said the association is into oil extraction from sesame seed, saying that the Federal Ministry of Agric has shown interest to give the farmers improved processing machine better than the locally fabricated popularly used by farmers.

Mutairu, however, lamented that the country is yet to fully explore the full potential of sesame seed and urged the government to encourage more investments in the value chain of the crop. – Independent

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