Nigeria, as a Sesame seed producing country, with the recent 5-billion naira support pledge by the federal government, is expected to shot up net production to about 40% between the year 2017 and 2018. According to a statement credited to Sheriff Balogun, president of the National Sesame Seed Association of Nigeria, the association is working on a 5-year development plan with a projection to hit 2 million tons per year by 2022.
This development came on the heel of a report, from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), as published on Bloomberg, ranking Sesame seed as Nigeria’s top raw agricultural export. The seed, Sesamum Indicum, as plant scientists call it, has thus attracted the interest of the government with the recent rave around its increased global demand –a consequence of the novel discovery of its use in health foods and confectionery production.
Jaison Davis, lead agriculture analyst at Hyderabad, reaffirmed this in his statement where he established that the sudden increase in global demand of the seed was orchestrated by the discovery of new Sesame seed use in confectioneries.
“Rising global demand is estimated to outstrip output, currently estimated at more than 6 million tons per year, by 10 percent in 2018.
“Due to the adverse climatic conditions in major producing and exporting countries,” David disclosed. He added that, “demand is being boosted by increasing use of sesame seed in confectionery and preference of its oils for presumed “health benefits.”
In Europe, according to CBI –centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries, Sesame seed is used for toppings on bakery products such as bread, bagels, hamburger buns and confectionery (sweets). The sudden rise in demand is feared to cause imbalance in the market where demand will no longer meet supply.
A serious challenge confronting the Sesame market is unfavorable climatic conditions, which have led to the fall in total production capacity of producing countries. The Sesame seed, as described in a market review report by Chemonics International Inc., is an important export crop in Nigeria, with Nigeria having a substantial role in the global sesame trade. Going by the statistics from annual exports of the seed from Nigeria, the seed has a net value around US$20 million with Nigeria as the primary supplier to the world’s largest importer –Japan.
Of Sesame, it said to be an environment-friendly crop suiting for smallholder cultivation which is a smart way for farmers to add to the diversity of local products in supporting sustainable agricultural systems. The impact of the seed on Women empowerment can also not be overemphasized. Women, in Sesame growing states across the central (middle belt) and northern parts of the country, are employed in the production, marketing and processing of the seed. Unlike some commodities with only export advantages, the crop can provide an alternative source of income as well as cooking oil for local consumption.
Since 2002, export trade of the seed has been flourishing with investment-attracting and eyes-alluring figures. It is therefore timely to develop support and action plans to facilitate the continued expansion of this sector. Once the 5-billion naira support fund is disbursed, it is expected to assist growers of Sesame seeds increase their farm capacity and obtain improved seeds, as necessary, placing Nigeria at an advantage end toping to meet global demand.
Aside the direct would-be effect of this proposed funding, experts have reviewed that the most promising way out to boost the economy is encouraging diversification. However, an ultimate fear lurks around, with troubling news of fund misappropriations; will another Nigerian snake, with a much larger stomach cavity, not swallow a helpless 5-billion naira?