Nigerian government pledges $14m to sesame seed production

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The Nigerian government has pledged a 5 billion naira ($14 million) funding support to help growers increase their farms and obtain improved seeds.

This statement was said by Sheriff Balogun, president of the National Sesame Seed Association of Nigeria after he affirmed that the burgeoning global demand for sesame seed; toppings on sushi, health foods and confectionery was boosting output in Nigeria and spurring expansion in the world’s third-biggest producer.

He further confirmed that production of the tiny seeds, easily recognizable on bread rolls, was expected to grow 40 percent in Nigeria in the 2017-18 season.

“We have a five-year development plan which seeks to increase production to about 2 million tons per year by 2022,” he said.

“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,”

Demand is being boosted by increasing use of sesame seed in confectionery and preference of its oils for presumed “health benefits,” this is according to Jaison Davis, lead agriculture analyst at Hyderabad, India-based Mordor Intelligence.

More farmers are adopting the crop because they see its export as a means of earning foreign exchange at a time Nigeria’s local currency has depreciated against the dollar, according to Lateef Adekoya, a local buying-agent based in Lagos, the commercial capital. Farm-gate prices have risen 20 percent in the past year to 275,000 naira per ton, he said.

Sesame seed is currently Nigeria’s top raw agricultural export, while cocoa, which is classified separately because of initial processing, remains the leading non-oil export, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Suzan O.